How safe is your kitchenware?

The kitchen utensils and cookware industry is highly regulated, with strict safety standards to ensure the health and safety of consumers. Chemicals present in what’s known as ‘food contact materials’ are known to potentially migrate and contaminate the food they come into contact with, creating risks for consumer health.

How can consumers therefore be sure that the container in which they are storing their food is safe? Or that the mug they are drinking coffee from is not releasing harmful chemicals? In most countries worldwide, all food contact products must comply with the applicable regulations governing the most common materials used and the product’s intended use.

The rules to follow depend on the material and country. For example, items sold in the EU and the US must comply with regulations such as the EC No. 1935/2004 in the EU or the FDA 21 CFR in the US, which cover the most common materials such as plastics, silicone and rubbers, metals and alloys, ceramics, wood, paper and board, varnishing and end coating, and more. Different criteria will apply if the container is plastic or ceramic, for instance, but also if it is intended to be used for aqueous food such as water or coffee, acidic foods like juice, or alcoholic beverages such as beer or wine, and if the container is designed for a single or repeated use.

Risks can still be identified after the products arrive on the market, even for major brands, which not only put the brand’s image at risk but can also generate additional costs if there are product recalls or fines. Some major brands were the object of product recalls last year, such as a major international furniture and décor brand that recalled a mug from the market which was potentially migrating excessive levels of dibutyl phthalate (DBP).

On top of the chemical risks, kitchen accessories have some associated physical risks related to fatigue, corrosion, and heat resistance as well as thermal hazards. They also must perform according to their expected use; for example, if they are intended to be microwave- or dishwasher-resistant, they will need to handle heat or water without breaking or suffering damage. While this may seem straightforward, physical risks are also frequently identified in the market for kitchenware articles. More common recalls include a heightened risk of injury and burns because of a container breaking under heat exposure or laceration hazards due to product cracks.

Meticulous quality checks and in-depth regulatory knowledge are critical, as well as ensuring you work with the right suppliers and maintain strict controls throughout product development and manufacturing. It is vital to understand each factory’s capacities, the origin of the materials used, and that the design is being precisely followed. To improve overall product quality, a factory audit can help you understand and optimize a factory’s capabilities, including:

  • Quality management
  • Product development 
  • Incoming quality control 
  • Production process control 
  • Finished product quality control 
  • Resources management 
  • Stock management 
  • Measuring & testing equipment control 

The kitchen utensils and accessories industry is also highly competitive. Numerous brands compete for consumer attention with constant overhauls of their range and, in many cases, a price battle. This adds further considerations to the equation, such as the importance of innovation and fit-for-use to bring products to the market that meet consumer expectations.

In this challenging environment in which supply chains are under pressure and shipping delays put delivery times at risk, ensuring product quality and safety before the end of production is key, so you ‘get it right the first time’.


API helps brands and retailers ensure the safety, quality, and performance of their kitchenware with our tailor-made solutions. Some of our key areas of support include:

  • Laboratory testing: Testing according to EU/US or country-based directives to maintain chemical and physical safety as well as testing with specific protocols to ensure performance and fit-for-use.
  • Product development support: Identification of critical areas and recommendations for adjustment at the design or purchase stage.
  • Technical Compliance File: Documentary review that attests product compliance according to protocol definitions, from document collection and verification to report issuance.
  • Factory audits: Factory evaluations that assess factory capabilities to meet production standards and deliver safe products on time.
  • Dedicated programs: Bespoke programs based on each client’s needs that provide support at every stage of the supply chain.

Interested in learning more about API’s kitchenware solutions?