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Responsibility for selling food safe ware


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#1 rswink

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:54 AM

i have recently decided to start selling some of my (many) bowls that i have made over the years. what is my responsibility as far as marking my bowls "food safe"? i only use pre-mixed glazes that i buy off commercial shelves. i follow the firing instructions and make sure to only buy "dinnerware safe." however, i do notice a note on all glaze containers that says "requires safety data sheet before using for dinnerware due to variations in temperatures, etc." (i am guessing from memory since i don't have one in front of me.) before selling, should i be sending a bowl from each glaze off to be tested? is that overkill? have i done all that i need to since i follow firing temps, etc. i tend to overthink, and just want to make sure i am not being irresponsible...are store bought glazes pretty much super food safe for the most part anyhow? thanks in advance! hope i posted correctly--this is my first posting!

#2 Chris Campbell

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 12:32 PM

There are many basic tests you can do at home to ease your mind. I would list them all but I would be typing forever, so I am going to recommend you buy "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes" by John Hesselberth and Ron Roy. They have an entire chapter on testing your glazes for stability and fit. The whole book is excellent so it will be a worthwhile addition to your pottery reference library.

Chris Campbell
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#3 rswink

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 12:52 PM

thank you for the info! i use 04-06 glazes. or do you have one you recommend for the low fires? i am looking on amazon at the one you recommended and it looks like it only addresses the higher ranges.


There are many basic tests you can do at home to ease your mind. I would list them all but I would be typing forever, so I am going to recommend you buy "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes" by John Hesselberth and Ron Roy. They have an entire chapter on testing your glazes for stability and fit. The whole book is excellent so it will be a worthwhile addition to your pottery reference library.



#4 JBaymore

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 01:06 PM

Chris's advice on the book is spot on. A GREAT resource and an unfortunately named resource, in a sense. A lot of what is in there is far broader than simply the Orton Cone 6 range.

Technically when you offer a product for sale (any kind of product) you are governed by such things as the laws of mercantability and other such stuff. Basically that says an object must be reasonably suited for the purpose for which it is intended. If something you make causes harm, you could be held responsible. If you did not excercise reasonable "due diligence" in pursuing the way you made your products, this potential liability goes up.

No supplier of ceramic raw materials indemnifies the end user potter for any liabilities in using their products. ASo no matter what the suppiler SAYS on their advertising and in catalogs, it is up to YOU to know the materials and how to correctly use them.

So the first step to protecting yourself is to "know your materials and processes". Getting some education under your belt is important in thie regard. For example, you need to really understand what listings like "dinnerware safe", "dishwasher safe", "lead safe", and "lead free" really mean. You need to know the US FDA lead and cadmium standards and the testing required if you use them.

So as a "manufacturer", you are responsible for your products, both ethically and legally. On the legal side, what you have to do is assess the level of risk to which you are exposing yoursefl (and you family). Then decide if the risk is acceptable.... or if you need to insure against the risk. Or not take on the risk (just yet).

The good news is that the likelyhood of having legal issues is very small. This is proven out by the low cost of insurance for craftspeople like potters. I can carry $2 mil of combined studio premises and product liability insurance for well under $1000 a year. As business insurance goes that is CHEAP.

Nothing to 'freak out" about, but important to know about. Just part of the education of a porfessionl potter. I cover this kind of stuff in my classes at the college at which I teach.

best,

........................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#5 rswink

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 01:10 PM

i appreciate you both taking the time to explain. i kept getting the standard response "as long as the glaze says it's safe it IS." i will definitely get this book. and i am glad you mentioned the idea of the insurance. my husband had mentioned making this an LLP (?) to protect us personally. sounds like he was not being overly cautious. thanks again for giving me a starting point!

#6 Chris Campbell

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 07:36 PM

The tests outlined in the book can be done for any pottery fired at any temperature.
I am a LLC because I want my pottery assets to be totally separate from my personal ones. If someone sues, they can haul away all the clay they can carry, but not my home! I took this step after a couple of near misses with customers ... Nothing to do with my pottery but all to do with them almost having accidents.
Check out the CERF site for business insurance options for artists.

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
www.ccpottery.com

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#7 Pres

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 08:39 AM

Chris's advice on the book is spot on. A GREAT resource and an unfortunately named resource, in a sense. A lot of what is in there is far broader than simply the Orton Cone 6 range.

Technically when you offer a product for sale (any kind of product) you are governed by such things as the laws of mercantability and other such stuff. Basically that says an object must be reasonably suited for the purpose for which it is intended. If something you make causes harm, you could be held responsible. If you did not excercise reasonable "due diligence" in pursuing the way you made your products, this potential liability goes up.

No supplier of ceramic raw materials indemnifies the end user potter for any liabilities in using their products. ASo no matter what the suppiler SAYS on their advertising and in catalogs, it is up to YOU to know the materials and how to correctly use them.

So the first step to protecting yourself is to "know your materials and processes". Getting some education under your belt is important in thie regard. For example, you need to really understand what listings like "dinnerware safe", "dishwasher safe", "lead safe", and "lead free" really mean. You need to know the US FDA lead and cadmium standards and the testing required if you use them.

So as a "manufacturer", you are responsible for your products, both ethically and legally. On the legal side, what you have to do is assess the level of risk to which you are exposing yoursefl (and you family). Then decide if the risk is acceptable.... or if you need to insure against the risk. Or not take on the risk (just yet).

The good news is that the likelyhood of having legal issues is very small. This is proven out by the low cost of insurance for craftspeople like potters. I can carry $2 mil of combined studio premises and product liability insurance for well under $1000 a year. As business insurance goes that is CHEAP.

Nothing to 'freak out" about, but important to know about. Just part of the education of a porfessionl potter. I cover this kind of stuff in my classes at the college at which I teach.

best,

........................john


John's advice here is excellent, and should be taken. At the same time when one talks about responsibility-think about how you would feel if someone got seriously ill, or died because of a container you sold that was not food safe when it was assumed to be by either you or the customer. I know that I would have a terrible time trying to live with that. That is why so often now you will see signs at shows on pottery that states not safe for food. Problem is when one sells these, the label/sign is often lost and someone else will use it. In the end I don't make anything that looks like a food type piece with a non food safe glaze.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#8 rswink

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 11:13 AM

i called brandywine science center in PA. i am going to send one bowl of each glaze that i use into them so that they can test for cadmium/lead. as far as you are aware--are they the best/most reputable, reliable place?
i have also looked at the info about testing for leaching. (with the lemon and the soda ash and vinegar)---and will do that.
is there anything else i should do? all i am selling is food bowls and canisters and i am realizing what a huge responsibilty that i am taking on in telling people that they are food safe. want to make sure that i am going about this in the responsible way.

chris, also thanks for the info on the CERF site. i will check that out as well.

**also, side note: this site is WONDERFUL!! i have had so many questions answered--what a great tool!




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