Why It Might Be Time to Stop Using Your Vintage Corelle Dinnerware

Updated: Mar. 21, 2024

If you have a set of Corelle dinnerware from before 2005, then this is a must-read.

Nearly all of us have a set of Corelle dinnerware in the cupboard. It may have been purchased after a ’70s kitchen update, or kept on hand since the kids were born in the ’80s. (It is unbreakable, after all.) Because of that decades-long connection, it feels like a member of the family.

But that long lifespan can also work against some of these pieces. Here’s why you should use caution when eating off older Corelle dishes — and what you can do to tell whether your dinnerware is safe.

It’s a Problem with the Paint

To understand why you might want to keep retro Corelle in the cabinet, you have to understand the manufacturing process, and how it’s changed over the past several decades.

Before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed regulations on how much lead could be used in tableware, plenty of companies used paints containing lead on their products. Those regulations only came into effect around 40 years ago.

If you own a set of dishes from pre-1980, there could be lead in the paint. If the paint chips, flakes off or mixes in with the food, you might consume lead along with your meal.

Needless to say, lead be especially harmful to children. There’s no safe level of lead for you, either. So while dish-related lead poisoning isn’t as serious as exposure to house paints or water, those gorgeous designs on your Corelle could make you sick.

In an email posted on Lead Safe Mama, Corelle itself recommended any dishes made prior to 2005 be used for decoration only.

Do I Need to Throw My Corelle Dishes Away?

Not necessarily. Corelle products purchased after 2005 are safe and comply with FDA regulations.

Now, if your dishes are older, that gets trickier. Avoid eating off older Corelle dinnerware if it shows obvious signs of deterioration — worn glaze, melting or chipping paint, etc.

To make sure you’re not consuming lead, avoid eating hot foods on the dishes or drinking hot beverages from any cups. And don’t put them in the microwave or store food in them for long periods.

What Else Can I Do?

How can you be absolutely sure whether Corelle is safe to serve dinner?

Lead Safe Mama tested a few Corelle pieces. If none of those patterns look like yours and you’re not sure when your set was made, buy a lead test kit. Amazon offers several options. It should be noted test kits are better at detecting high levels of lead than trace amounts.

In the end, if you’re concerned, it’s probably best to put the dishes in a display cabinet and replace them with newer, safer designs.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home