It All Started with a Simple Search

I have always loved to decorate with old china plates from clients collections. With farm style so popular these days, many people are buying and using vintage tableware.

I have some vintage plates of Franciscan Desert Rose. I love how brite and shiny they are and that each piece is unique since they were hand painted. I have an incomplete set that I’ve had for a long time. I decided to get them out and start using them. I didn’t have any large bowls though. I went searching online for a set of them. To my surprise, I had many results that said “Is Franciscan Ware safe to eat off of?” and “Is it safe to put in the dishwasher?” and more.

franciscan tableware

And then I Fell Down the Rabbit Hole

I am a researcher and I wanted to know the answers to those questions, especially since I was using them, microwaving them and putting them in the dishwasher. I came across this site: and got a truckload of bad news about the items behind the cabinet doors in my kitchen and probably yours too. It is absolutely not what I expected. It was very scary. The answer is “Franciscan Ware” has some of the highest numbers in ppm of lead. Franciscan Desert Rose Earthenware China – c. 1941, Made in USA: 122,200 ppm Lead! [90 ppm is unsafe in kids’ items.] I am also a skeptic and don’t believe everything I read or am told. I wanted #LeadSafeMama to be wrong. The following was taken directly from her sight:

For context: There is currently no federal standard for an allowable limit of XRF detectable lead in consumer goods like dishware. The only federal standard for XRF detectable lead is in items manufactured for and intended to be used by children. The allowable limits are 90 ppm lead in the coating and 100 ppm in the substrate (in the case of dishes, if they were children’s dishes, this would be the ceramic base of the dish, vs. the glaze.)

Franciscan China is generally (and consistently) VERY high in lead. I highly recommend not having any in your home and not ever using for food use purposes. If you want to keep one piece on hand to remind you of your grandmother (or of a time gone by!) please consider putting it in a shadow box with a glass cover and please hide a note behind the dish (in case anyone ever breaks the dish out of the shadow box) that the item is high lead and should not be used for food consumption purposes.

Hands should also be thoroughly washed after handling these dishes as they most often also test positive with a reactive agent test (like a LeadCheck swab), which means there is likely available lead on the surface of the dish and that can easily wear off on your hands.

MOST dishes will NOT test positive with a LeadCheck swab, but the handmade and handprinted Franciscan brand dishes are one of the main brands that consistently does test positive with this testing method.

Do not put in the dishwasher, because most dishwasher detergents contain a chemical that reacts with the lead and releases it in your dishwasher contaminating your dishwasher with lead and everything in it.

Whoa? What? Who is this Tamara Rubin?

Tamara Rubin is an internationally recognized, award winning* lead-poisoning prevention advocate and documentary filmmaker. She took on the cause of childhood lead-poisoning when her own sons were poisoned by the work of a painting contractor in 2005.

Since then Tamara has created a strong web and media presence for the cause of lead-poisoning prevention, in an effort to bring this message to the world: lead poisoning was not “solved” with the 1978 ban on lead in residential paint. She is committed to educating every parent about this wholly preventable environmental illness that causes permanent brain damage in young children yet still today conservatively costs the United States more than $50.9 Billion annually!

Through her advocacy work, Tamara has personally helped thousands of families create safer homes and environments for their children.

She uses and is certified to use a Niton XRF Instrument and 3m LeadCheck Swabs.

For more info on her testing methods

Ok, I think she is legit and I’m passing this information on for you to decide if you want to delve in deeper and find out if the items in your home should be considered safe.

Here are some of her recent posts.

(She also gives you suggestions of what you should drink and eat out of.)

Stop using your vintage Tupperware NOW. These measuring cups are positive for 2,103 ppm Lead + 250 ppm Arsenic.

I still have mine, but mine are ivory in color. I still have almost all of my old Tupperware. My children learned how to drink with their sippy cup lids, they also chewed them!

plastic measuring cups

Vintage Corelle Plate With Crazy Daisy Spring Blossom Green Edge: 15,200 ppm Lead  + Cadmium.

Oh yes, there are other really bad things in our tableware too. Have a baby? Gold Painted Leather Baby Shoes: 1,674 ppm Lead [above 90 ppm is unsafe (& illegal) in children’s items].

plastic measuring cups

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