Lead, lead, lead…

Oh yes… I’m talking about the metal here, not the verb. I have a warning for all traveler’s to Mexico who want to bring back some beautiful pottery as a souvenier… Don’t plan on using it to cook! I’ll blame ignorance for this expensive mistake. The thought never crossed either Mex or my mind when we were buying our 80-piece dish set. We were so in love with the pattern and after an hour of walking around and discussing it we decided to purchase the dishes as our big present to ourselves. It wasn’t until I got back to the US and showed them to my mom and a friend that they asked about lead. I had no idea! So after many months of the dishes sitting in boxes I finally found the business card from where we purchased them. Mex called and asked the lady if they used lead in their glaze because I had read online that in the last three years a lot of places had stopped due to health awareness. The lady told Mex they absolutely do not use lead in the glaze and you can even microwave the dishes and cook in them. WRONG!

Just to be sure, I found a place in St. Louis Park that would test a plate for $30. I did it as a formality since I didn’t think the woman in Puebla would lie. I mean it’s not like we would be able to return them anyway! The tester guy called and told me there is indeed lead in our plates and we should NOT heat them in the microwave or cook anything in them and should also not store food in them. Wow. Talk about a sad kick in the gut.

The guy said it would be safe to eat off of them occassionally because food doesn’t sit long enough on the plate between when you serve and when you consume it for any lead to leach out. The problem is if you heat it or chip it or if you let things sit on them overnight in the fridge. Serving dry things like crackers or bruschetta toast will not absorb any lead so I can at least use them at parties and for holiday meals. As long as we don’t use them daily or cook on them there is no real danger. We never planned on using them for actually cooking anyway, just serving, but it is still disappointing.

Lesson learned… thinking of buying pottery to eat off of? DON’T! Even if you ask the people at the store in Mexico they may either lie or not know the truth themselves (I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt). Just buy pottery with decoration in mind! At least we have a beautiful set of special occassion dishes and apparently a really, really expensive kitchen/dining room decoration. Now we need to find a hutch cupboard to display them in I guess!


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