Be careful with bamboo and melamine crockery

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) recommends that melamine plastic tableware in which bamboo and / or maize fibers are processed should not be used (anymore). When used, there is a chance that too much formaldehyde will end up in the food or drink. The NVWA informs importers and suppliers of these products that they must immediately withdraw the products from the market. The authority takes enforcement action if the products are offered in the Netherlands. In addition, the Nutrition Center also recommends that tableware made from 100% plastic melamine should not be used for hot food and drinks for children between 0 and 3 years.


Exploratory research Bamboo melamine tableware is on the rise because of its alleged durability. Although it is sold as 'bamboo', these materials are made from melamine plastic with bamboo fibers added. In addition, they release substances such as formaldehyde and melamine, which are harmful to health in excessive amounts. Based on signals from the EU, the NVWA has conducted its own exploratory research into melamine plastic tableware with bamboo fibers. This concerned hard, wear-resistant, plastic tableware that can be reused. Cups, bowls and mugs have been sampled and examined. In a number of articles, it appeared that considerable violations of the so-called migration limit for formaldehyde. This means that when using the service, too much formaldehyde is released in food or drinks.

Risk assessment

The Risk Assessment & Research Office (BuRO) of the NVWA, was then asked what the risk is of the use of this type of commonly used tableware. BuRO investigated from which release level of formaldehyde there is a health risk. And it has investigated whether the release of formaldehyde from the products of the exploratory study is expected to have health effects. It turned out that in the presence of bamboo in the examined dishes, the release of formaldehyde was higher; therefore, health effects from formaldehyde in food and drink cannot be ruled out.

Too high an intake of formaldehyde can lead to stomach irritation and ulcers. Based on the risk assessment, BuRO recommends that all plastic crockery in which bamboo and / or maize fibers are processed should not be used (anymore). Such products should also be banned from the market. BuRO also points out that bamboo and maize fibers as an addition to plastic tableware have not been assessed by the EU food safety authority (EFSA); safety cannot therefore be guaranteed. The addition of bamboo and corn fibers to plastic consumer items such as crockery is therefore not permitted.

Take off the market

A letter has been sent from the Benelux countries to the importers and suppliers of these articles instructing them to immediately remove bamboo-melamine plastic tableware from the market. The 3 Benelux countries also announce in the letter that from now on the ban on unauthorized (bamboo) additives in plastic consumer articles will be enforced.

Consumers who still find such products on the Dutch market can report this to the NVWA. The NVWA will take enforcement action if such products are offered in the Netherlands.

Young children

Based on the risk assessment, the NVWA advises the Minister for Medical Care and Sport to lower the current so-called specific migration limit (SML) for formaldehyde (15 mg per kg) for melamine plastic tableware (with or without bamboo fibers). It now offers insufficient protection for use by children because of their lower body weight. Consumers and users of this type of service must also be actively informed about these risks (especially for babies and children).

Pending the lowering of the standard, the Nutrition Center advises not to use dinnerware made of 100% melamine (so without additives of bamboo and / or corn) for hot food and drinks for children between 0 and 3 years.

More information

For questions about this news item, journalists can contact the NVWA press information team, (088) 22 33 700.

Consumers and businesses can contact the Customer Contact Center or 0900-03 88 (usual call charges).