Food and Drink

Fears Mount Of Lead Poisoning By Owners of Older Corelle Dishes

This popular vintage dishware is used by millions

If you read the news at all, it’ll come as no surprise that many things in our lives aren’t what they seem. For example, “retirement” might mean part-time work or being a consultant, and it might not be so easy after all. And your “healthy” breakfast cereal might have more sugar than a bowl of Lucky Charms (but with less fiber). It turns out that there’s another everyday item in our lives that could also have hidden dangers lurking beneath its shiny surface: your dinnerware. So let’s take a look at using older Corelle dishes could pose a health hazard to you and your family.

Why Is There Lead Or Cadmium In Dinnerware?

As you may know, the earth’s crust is made up of various metals. While some are beneficial to humans, others can be dangerous. Lead and cadmium are two examples of these hazardous metals, which can be found worldwide in soil and dust.

Both lead and cadmium are used during the manufacturing process in dinnerware. Lead is used as a pigment to make glazes stronger; cadmium gives dishes their red color. Due to health concerns, both elements have been phased out of many products over time, but they still exist in older dishes like Corelle ware.

Are My Corelle Dishes Safe To Use?

The good news is that it’s easy to tell if your dishes are lead-safe.

The bad news is that there’s no way to tell if your Corelle dishes are lead-safe. That’s right: the only way to know whether or not your dishes contain harmful levels of lead is by taking them in for testing at a lab. And while it might seem like an inconvenience, the truth is that you have nothing to lose from this test—and potentially something precious: your health!

So what should you do? The easiest solution here is to dispose of any potentially dangerous Corelle dinnerware and replace it with something else. However, if you want a more permanent solution, you can test your dishware with a test kit available at local home improvement stores or hardware stores. Some states even have accessible testing facilities where consumers can bring their ceramic dinnerware to determine whether or not it contains hazardous levels of heavy metals like cadmium and lead. So when in doubt about whether or not those vintage Corning Ware plates could be harming your family’s health all these years later, don’t hesitate: to get them tested!

How Do You Know If Your Dishes Contain Lead?

If you want to ensure your Corelle dish is lead-free, there are a few ways to check. 

Use a lead test kit for dinnerware to determine if your Corelle dinnerware contains lead. While it cannot provide precise levels, it can identify the presence of lead or cadmium.

Stick to pure white Corelle dinner settings to ensure they are lead-free. If you have decorative vintage Corelle tableware, use it as décor or display it in your china cabinet.

How Could Lead Get Into My Food From My Dishes?

But how does lead or cadmium get into your food? It’s not like the dishes are biting back. The truth is, there are a couple of ways to make sure that your food doesn’t end up with lead or cadmium during food preparation and serving. 

  • If you heat dishes containing lead above 350˚ F (and the dish itself has more than 5% lead), they leach more of those metals into food than if they’re exposed to lower temperatures.
  • If you wash dishes covered in lead-infused glaze at high temperatures (over 140˚ F), this can also leach more metals into your food.

What Dinnerware Is Free Of Lead And Cadmium?

If you’re concerned about lead content in your dinnerware, there’s a simple way to determine if your dishes are lead-free. First, if it was made after 2005, it’s likely OK. Next, look at the bottom of your plate and check for “Made in the USA.” If it says that, you can rest assured that it was made with safe practices and materials.

The lead should not seep out of ceramics that have been appropriately prepared. However, the lead might leach out if the dishes are not thoroughly hardened and glazed. Furthermore, glazes used before FDA rules included greater levels of lead. Over time, ingesting lead may be harmful to your health, especially for youngsters and pregnant women.

Fears Mount Of Lead Poisoning By Owners of Older Corelle Dishes

It’s not just the older Corelle dishes that are at risk of containing lead. Any dinnerware made before the 1970s was manufactured in China or another country with a high likelihood of lead-painted tableware.

Lead and cadmium were used in glazes on dinnerware because they were cheap, durable, and easy to apply. Although the FDA banned lead in all food packaging and utensils in 2010, it continues to be used overseas due to its low cost and availability compared with safer alternatives like porcelain or ceramic ware with non-toxic glazes.

In your dishwasher (or washing by hand), lead could contaminate food: if you wash dishes with food residue still on them; or if you use harsh detergents containing phosphates which can leach out into foods when heated during dishwashing cycles or boiling water hand-washing methods.


You can research to see if Cadmium and Lead are in the vintage dishes by looking up the FDA Red List. Or, we recommend testing your dishes with an XRF instrument before using them for food preparation.


Paul Austin

This Michigan author has posted about the Great Lakes and Michigan for over ten years. He has been published in magazines and online print. When he is not writing, he can be found on the beach looking for Petoskey stones. You can find him at

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