For years, people have been using plastic and melamine utensils, like cups, plates, and containers for serving and storing meals. However, in recent times, in a bid to reduce exposure to toxins and save the environment, plastic and melamine utensils are slowly being replaced by bamboo products. The big question now remains, are bamboo dishes really safe for human use? It all boils down to what materials are used in combination with the bamboo. Here’s a breakdown of how these products affect our health and which options are safer.
Are Bamboo Plates Safe to Eat from?
Bamboo plates should be safe for eating since they are made from the bamboo plant, which is eco-friendly. Bamboo is also biodegradable and highly durable. But, not all bamboo utensils are safe for human use.
You see, bamboo is not shaped into a spoon or salad bowl like you would do with wood. It's used in fiber or powder form, which may require it to be agglomerated.
The most common binding agent used to process bamboo fibers is melamine-formaldehyde resin, a type of plastic that’s said to be harmful to human health. Due to this fact, some countries, like France, Denmark, Germany, and Belgium have recalled bamboo utensils in the precipice of increased concerns about their safety.
Melamine is a chemical compound that was previously thought to affect the kidney only. More research, however, shows that it has negative impacts on human health. Melamine exposure can affect reproductive health and brain development since it has been found to affect how hormones work.
The worst part is that it can leach from dishes into foods. That’s where manufacturing plays a big part. If the manufacturing process is poorly controlled, then it can release its components into food.
100 Percent Bamboo Is Safe
We mentioned earlier that the food and consumer product safety of several nations banned the use of bamboo tableware made from melamine plastic due to their harmful effects on our health.
The bamboo melamine products are, therefore, still made of plastic. However, pure bamboo is an incredible material that has many good qualities. For starters, it won't crack or break easily, plus bamboo fibers don’t soak up color or odor from food. They are easy to maintain and clean since they won't allow food to seep into the fibers.
Here are other benefits of using bamboo dishes:
Like we said, bamboo is a plant, meaning it is biodegradable. There are no toxins involved in making pure bamboo dishes, reducing their impact on the environment. What's more, bamboos grow extraordinarily fast and can reach 60 feet in just about three years. It replenishes itself, constantly sending up new shoots, meaning it doesn’t require replanting compared to other types of trees.
It's Lightweight and Unbreakable
Bamboo is very tough, yet lightweight. This makes tableware made from bamboo easy to use for kids. On top of that, you don’t have to worry about kids breaking the utensils since they are virtually indestructible. You won't even see wear and tear showing up any time soon.
When manufactured using 100 percent bamboo, the dish is chemical-free, unlike plastic, which is laden with harsh chemicals. No additives are added in making the various bamboo products. For example, when making bamboo straws, the stem is cut, thoroughly hollowed, washed, and dried.
Since bamboo has a natural defense mechanism to protect itself from pests that plague other kinds of crops, it doesn’t need any pesticides. When it grows, bamboo naturally produces negative ions that keep off insects, pests, and harmful bacteria. That means no chemicals are required during the planting process, which is also a positive thing for the planet.
The negative ions in bamboo create natural anti-bacterial properties that prevent the growth and development of harmful bacteria. In turn, you can enjoy food in your bamboo dishes without the foul smells that other materials like plastic or wood have.
How to Buy 100 Percent Natural Bamboo Products
It's important to always read the labels of the items you’re purchasing to ensure you get the right product. When buying bamboo dishes, it can be challenging to differentiate between melamine bamboo and 100 percent natural bamboo kitchenware.
But, if you take a closer look, you can recognize the matte/dull appearance and bamboo fiber through the product. With pure bamboo items, the wood structure is clearly visible.
As you can tell by now, there are bamboo dishes that contain melamine resin, which has formaldehyde. If you want to get the real deal, make sure you carefully examine the products and buy only those from natural bamboo.
Generally, bamboo dishes are safe to use. But, keep in mind that, despite it being tough and sturdy, it's not advisable to use a bamboo bowl in the microwave. Additionally, it's better to avoid serving really hot or really wet food in bamboo dishes.
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