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oldlady

For New Folks, Red Is Not Santa Suit Red, Usually

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This is not directed at anyone in particular, but rather everyone who has ever bought a commercial glaze. Here's my opinion on safety labeling and commercial glazes, formed from working as a tech at a ceramic supply company where I was in charge of glaze labeling:

 

It's in the glaze manufacturer's best interest to be overly-cautious when putting safety labels on glazes. The liability is too high to do it any other way. If someone gets sick or dies from one of their products, not only will they go out of business within a few days of the news getting out, but the entire ceramics and glaze market will come under extreme scrutiny, to the point that none of us will be able to buy clay unless we wear a respirator in the clay store.

 

Not only do the glaze manufacturers test their glazes, but the raw materials also have to be tested for hazardous metals content. So there is more than one level of safety testing going on.

 

There is a ridiculous amount of paranoia and distrust of the clay and glaze manufacturers by potters. The overall attitude seems to be that they are out to screw us all and only do the bare minimum required to keep us safe. But do we all go out and have every glaze we buy tested by an independent lab for leaching? Of course not. We go by what the labels say. We can't afford to do it any other way. Has there been a case of a customer testing a commercial glaze and finding that the label wasn't accurate? Not that I know of.

 

So either trust the labels or stop buying their products. You can't buy the glazes and then complain the whole time that the labels can't be trusted. That's like eating at McDonlad's and complaining that the food isn't healthy. And unless you have FACTS supporting claims that labels on certain commercial products are not accurate, please don't spread distrust and paranoia.

Wyndham and mregecko like this

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Excellent post Neil.

It seems like everyone is ready to believe the worst about everything. I have always gotten great information when I have asked questions of the tech reps at NCECA. They in turn ask us questions so they can more fully understand how we use their products. The advances they have made in their products in the last twenty years are amazing.

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It's in the glaze manufacturer's best interest to be overly-cautious when putting safety labels on glazes. The liability is too high to do it any other way. If someone gets sick or dies from one of their products, not only will they go out of business within a few days of the news getting out, but the entire ceramics and glaze market will come under extreme scrutiny, to the point that none of us will be able to buy clay unless we wear a respirator in the clay store.

 

My question is, have there ever been any relatively recent confirmed cases, of someone eating off a ceramic surface, either food safe or otherwise, and becoming ill?  No doubt it has happened many times over the years, especially in the past, where material safety wasn't a concern, but now that we are a little wiser, is it really an issue?

 

I just ask, because I always have students ask, why they can't use certain glazes for functional wares.  Most "decoration only" glazes I have, are textured, and as I understand it, are not food safe because of the texture, which would be hard to clean properly.  The students ask what would happen if they ate of those surfaces?  I tell them, probably nothing, or maybe years down the road they'll get sick.  I then follow that with, "I'm not going to let you take the risk."

 

Also, as Chris said, excellent post Neil. 

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It's in the glaze manufacturer's best interest to be overly-cautious when putting safety labels on glazes. The liability is too high to do it any other way. If someone gets sick or dies from one of their products, not only will they go out of business within a few days of the news getting out, but the entire ceramics and glaze market will come under extreme scrutiny, to the point that none of us will be able to buy clay unless we wear a respirator in the clay store.

 

My question is, have there ever been any relatively recent confirmed cases, of someone eating off a ceramic surface, either food safe or otherwise, and becoming ill?  No doubt it has happened many times over the years, especially in the past, where material safety wasn't a concern, but now that we are a little wiser, is it really an issue?

 

I just ask, because I always have students ask, why they can't use certain glazes for functional wares.  Most "decoration only" glazes I have, are textured, and as I understand it, are not food safe because of the texture, which would be hard to clean properly.  The students ask what would happen if they ate of those surfaces?  I tell them, probably nothing, or maybe years down the road they'll get sick.  I then follow that with, "I'm not going to let you take the risk."

 

Also, as Chris said, excellent post Neil. 

 

 

Thank you both.

 

I think most food born illnesses are impossible to trace back to the source. Random upset stomachs happen to all of us, but we rarely know what caused it, unless we happen to eat a gut bomb at the local diner. Safety labeling takes into account what could happen should everything come together in just the right way and cause bacterial growth. So they don't take any chances, and label it 'Not Food Safe'. Otherwise they get sued when some ######## has diarrhea. If you want to use that glaze for food, it's your right to do so, but you can't blame the manufacturer when you vomit. When I was working as a tech, any glaze that was too matte, or intended to crackle heavily was labeled 'Not Food Safe'.

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It's in the glaze manufacturer's best interest to be overly-cautious when putting safety labels on glazes. The liability is too high to do it any other way. If someone gets sick or dies from one of their products, not only will they go out of business within a few days of the news getting out, but the entire ceramics and glaze market will come under extreme scrutiny, to the point that none of us will be able to buy clay unless we wear a respirator in the clay store.

 

My question is, have there ever been any relatively recent confirmed cases, of someone eating off a ceramic surface, either food safe or otherwise, and becoming ill?  No doubt it has happened many times over the years, especially in the past, where material safety wasn't a concern, but now that we are a little wiser, is it really an issue?

 

I just ask, because I always have students ask, why they can't use certain glazes for functional wares.  Most "decoration only" glazes I have, are textured, and as I understand it, are not food safe because of the texture, which would be hard to clean properly.  The students ask what would happen if they ate of those surfaces?  I tell them, probably nothing, or maybe years down the road they'll get sick.  I then follow that with, "I'm not going to let you take the risk."

 

Also, as Chris said, excellent post Neil. 

 

 

Thank you both.

 

I think most food born illnesses are impossible to trace back to the source. Random upset stomachs happen to all of us, but we rarely know what caused it, unless we happen to eat a gut bomb at the local diner. Safety labeling takes into account what could happen should everything come together in just the right way and cause bacterial growth. So they don't take any chances, and label it 'Not Food Safe'. Otherwise they get sued when some ######## has diarrhea. If you want to use that glaze for food, it's your right to do so, but you can't blame the manufacturer when you vomit. When I was working as a tech, any glaze that was too matte, or intended to crackle heavily was labeled 'Not Food Safe'.

 

Yeah, I've used a very matte glaze that was labeled as such. 

 

And in my parts this summer, I wouldn't be too concerned about dinnerware causing my stomach problems, as opposed to me trying to do something as crazy as eat a salad in a restaurant (cyclospora outbreak).

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this was supposed to be a fun topic with a little information for new folks included.  i wish i had never posted anything at all and i know that most of you do too.  thank you all of you who are in support of my mentioning the gorilla in the room and understand that upset stomach is not what it is about.

 

those of you who still do not get the point, i am adopting the phrase "never apologize, never explain"  

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Well, I've come a bit late to this discussion (break that word down and get what the whole exchange of ideas became).

 

My mother had and used Fiesta Ware for years.  Her favorite was an orange pitcher that she used for orange juice.  When the warnings went out about the glazes (especially yellows, oranges and reds) I warned her about the likelyhood of her getting sick.  She just laughed.  Sadly, she passed away at the tender age of 93.  She was aiming for 100.  Was it the Fiesta Ware glazes that hurried her demise?  I think not.

 

I use underglaze reds a lot.  I like to blend and shade them to get the various hues.  Clear glaze then protects the design and the customer.  I also use red glazes, and if the folks who produce these reds say they are food safe, who am I to distrust them?  Whether used on functional ware or decorative ware, I LOVE red.

 

Shirley

 

p.s. Trina, at which skate arena are we meeting?  I bet I can skate as well as OHR.  I can hardly wait.    SP

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cadmium is a carcinogen so it is not generally found in home studios.  bottled red glaze should not be used on surfaces that will come in contact with food.  if you want to paint little red flowers on the outside of your vases or flowerpots, go ahead, just not on a plate. 

 

 

 

OldLady- I realize that the point of your original post was not upset stomachs, but you did broach the subject of food safety in your original post (above). And you made a very broad generalization about the food safety of red glazes, which has led us to where we are now. But do not regret your post, as it has led to some very good discussions, and we're getting a lot of information out to the forum.

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I think OLD Fiesta ware collections do set off Geiger counters ... Or is that an urban myth?

 

Chances are that occasional use of anything is not going to impact anyone much. But what if someone makes that piece their absolute favorite and uses it all day, every day?

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I think OLD Fiesta ware collections do set off Geiger counters ... Or is that an urban myth?

 

Chances are that occasional use of anything is not going to impact anyone much. But what if someone makes that piece their absolute favorite and uses it all day, every day?

 

Bingo! Humans are creatures of habit. What if someone has their orange juice from their favorite toxic mug every morning for a few years? Then there's a big chance of a problem. And that is why they have safety labels.

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