Melamine dinnerware has enjoyed recent surges in popularity among foodservice operators thanks to advances in alternative materials design. Now available in an array of styles, foodservice operators enjoy the different décor themes supported by modern-day melamine. From elegant and understated to modern cosmopolitan, melamine dinnerware resembles china, but is also break-resistant, dishwasher-safe, and often less expensive than china.
But of all the advantages melamine dinnerware brings to foodservice, there’s at least one thing it doesn't do well: Melamine dinnerware is not a great candidate for the microwave. G.E.T. is one of the foremost authorities on melamine dinnerware with more than 30 years of experience. We’ll tell you why we recommend keeping your melamine dinnerware out of the microwave if you're in commercial foodservice and what will happen if you microwave it anyway. We all break the rules sometimes, right?
Pictured: 10 oz white melamine bowl
What Does Microwave-Safe Actually Mean?
We should establish that microwave-safe means different things to different people. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) conducted a poll of 2,000 consumers on this subject and got some interesting results. For some, microwave-safe means zero chances of a dish exploding. For others, it meant that chemicals won't migrate into food.
The good news is that melamine dinnerware does not release chemicals - not in the microwave, not out of the microwave. It also won't explode from microwave use. Even so, we still recommend keeping melamine dinnerware out of the microwave in a commercial foodservice environment.
Who Microwaves Melamine Dinnerware?
Everybody. Well, not everybody, but in residential use, melamine dinnerware is often microwaved. Even at G.E.T., most of our employees have microwaved their melamine at some point. You've probably microwaved melamine at home, too. But residential use is a far cry from commercial kitchens.
At home, your plateware doesn't go through nearly the same amount of rotation that dishes in high-volume foodservice do. And your home dishwasher and microwaves are quite calm compared to their rowdy commercial counterparts. Fundamentally, home use and commercial use just aren't the same.
If you want to microwave your melamine dinnerware at home, that's completely up to you. If you want to microwave it at your foodservice establishment, we'll tell you what you can expect.
What Happens if You Microwave Melamine Dinnerware Anyway?
Wood pulp is the base component of melamine dinnerware. When melamine dinnerware is microwaved or generally exposed to temperatures exceeding 160°F (regardless of the heat source) on a regular basis or for a long period of time, it will eventually dry out. Imagine a tree that hasn’t been watered in ages. Its branches would be weak, brittle, and break more easily than if it was properly watered.
Yep. That's it. It dries out.
As boring as that may seem, however, dried out melamine dinnerware can have a legitimate impact on operations:
- Shortened service life from premature breaking, chipping, or cracking can be an unnecessary added expense
- Your brand equity may suffer if guests are served on unappealing plateware
- Your dishes won't be covered under G.E.T.'s warranty
When it's properly cared for, melamine typically lasts several years, but frequent microwaving will take it out of service before its time. That's just an unnecessary cost for foodservice operators, and we truly want you to get the most out of your investment.
Pictured: Midtown™ Melamine Collection
Ultimately, G.E.T. knows how important it is for foodservice operators to have dinnerware that not only looks great, but is functional with a long service life. We care about your bottom line, which is why we do everything we can to help educate our customers about the best ways to care for their tabletop items. So, keep your melamine dinnerware out of the microwave and generally follow the prescribed care and maintenance. You’ll be well served by these products for years, your guests will enjoy sophisticated tabletops, and your brand status will be upheld.
If you're interested in learning more about the service life and average replacement rates of melamine dinnerware, we recommend reading "What is the Normal Lifespan of a Melamine Plate."