Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Set Is Inappropriately Proud Of Its Materials

The person in charge of the Ben & Jerry’s gift shop in their Vermont factory might want to talk to someone about redesigning the packaging of this ice cream bowl and spoon set—”melamine” probably isn’t the kind of word you want to position so prominently these days.

(And yes, we know it’s not toxic in this form. That’s why the tag is “oops” and not “poison!”)

(Thanks to Pete!)

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  1. EarlNowak says:

    Though Melamine (the chemical) is a poison which is used to adulterate milk products (because it fools standard tests into thinking there’s more protein in the milk), “Melamine” used to refer to Melamine Resin, a safe, food grade plastic used in a lot of kitchenware.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @EarlNowak: Still, plasticware isn’t the first thing that pops to mind – considering it is a dairy product.

      • tande04 says:

        @Jabberkaty: Its not a dairy product. You’ve seen it in the news related to milk but as said above thats just because they were using to confuse the protein tests.

        Its really just bad timing (which you can’t really fault them for). It has a negative conotation now because of the way the chemical has been used in the news but in a month it will just be some other descriptive word used for the plastic which none of us really care about.

        • Jabberkaty says:

          @tande04: I meant Ben & Jerry’s in general, not the plates… Mmmm… Edible plates.

        • @tande04: that reminds me, why aren’t we all concerned about BPA any more? we shat our collective pants, manufacturers phased it out, FDA said it was safe, some other body called BS on the FDA findings, and we forgot about it (or maybe it was just the fact that the world economy imploded, and we stopped worrying about cancer for a few minutes)

          • @Gstein: Yes, the economy sort of pushed BPA off the media radar. Also, it brings in horribly low pageviews on this blog, so it’s not financially viable for me to keep posting about it.

            Yes, that sucks. Whenever I have a string of high-pageview posts, I usually take that opportunity to post about something I think is important but unsexy, like BPA. Otherwise I can’t risk it.

            It’s a direct consequence of pegging pageviews to earnings–on a lot of levels it makes sense, but since it ties one’s livelihood to how many eyes he can capture for each post, less popular topics drop off the radar more frequently.

    • Sockatume says:

      @EarlNowak: As an academic chemist I wholeheartedly endorse this message. It’s stil awesomely ironic though.

  2. krispykrink says:

    Well the FDA did just recently say that melamine is good for you.

  3. LetMeGetTheManager says:

    Mmmmmmmmmm…death.

  4. ciscokidinsf says:

    You can have Melamine on your kitchenware or on your ice-cream!

    New Flavor: Melamine-ChinaBerry, with chunks of Melamine for added nutritional content! (Replaces ‘Ron Jeremy’s Chunky-Jizz’ flavor)

  5. SBR249 says:

    Sometimes less is more…they could’ve just said “plastic plate and utensil set”

  6. tripnman says:

    My sister works at B+J/Unilever HQ in Vermont. Just sent this to her and will post any response. And yes, we have a set of these that our youngster uses, and there doesn’t seem to be any problem with either of his two heads or six fingers.

  7. vastrightwing says:

    Less is more, but don’t forget, marketing types love to embellish packaging with as much stuff as they can: Witness Microsoft packaging vs. Apple. For a fun video, search youtube for Microsoft ipod. It’s very amusing if you’re a designer.

  8. friendlynerd says:

    Eating melamine = not ok.

    Eating ON melamine = totally OK.

    Melamine plates aren’t new, and unless you’re carefully turning them into powder and eating them I think you’ll be fine.

  9. The factory’s only about 20 minutes away from me, I’ll go round up my posse and be right back.

    /fix

  10. satoru says:

    As many have indicated melamine is commonly used in industrial plastics because of several beneficial qualities. It is NOT supposed to be used in food stuff obviously (well not as obvious to the Chinese but that’s a different story)

    You can see a lot of melamine named products in Ikea too.

  11. mbz32190 says:

    I’m sure it’s okay to eat on…it doesn’t seem like that big of threat. They are only poisonous if heated up, and this being an ice cream set, what is the problem?

    • Farquar says:

      @mbz32190: I’m not certain your knowledge of the science here is correct. If it were the problem would be that people do not always use things for their intended purpose. I might take this, stick my kids food on it, and microwave it. Voila.. heated up.

      But as I said.. your scientific analysis does not seem to be correct.

    • chrisjames says:

      @mbz32190: Actually, you don’t even need to heat it up. This leaks-on-heat theory is getting out of hand. The melamine resin can leak from the plastics on simple contact. It’s in such a ridiculously small amount, probably close to the level of natural toxins you breathe in every hour.

      Reading up on it now: wiki says melamine by itself is as harmful as, I think, table salt?

  12. satoru says:

    What you don’t want to hear is say…. them using industrial pesticides inside the milk because those darn insects keep buzzing around when we’re making them. (yes they did this in China for pickled foods)

  13. Gopher bond says:

    Wouldn’t this kinda be like inventing a new kind of paint can calling it “Lead Paint” pronounced LEED not LED?

    Sure, our new Lead Paint might be stain proof and never require repainting but still, no onw is going to buy Lead Paint.

  14. MissKissLock says:

    Throughout this whole melamine drama, every time I hear the word, I think of plates. My kids are 6 and 7 and I love melamine plates, and they’re cheap. They’re also common, so seeing it on the package isn’t shocking.

    As has been said.

  15. Charmander says:

    Will they be EATING the plates? If not, I think kids everywhere will be safe.

  16. glater says:

    Melamine has been a plastic product for *ages*. These instances of the chemical showing up in food are a modern contrivance.

    Before now, most anyone who’d ever seen a piece of plastic ware from mid-20th century would’ve thought “melamine”, and not “HAHA THATS NAMED AFTER POISON” like a noob.

    • @glater: ok, so i’m confused… is there any chemical similarity between teh poison and the plastic product?

      • glater says:

        @Gstein:

        Yes, inasmuch as the plasticware is made of the chemical plus other stuff, as noted below. Don’t eat your kitchenware and you’ll be fine. Melamine kitchenware is a bit depreciated these days anyways, due to the whole non-recyclable nature of it. But it’s non-toxic to eat from, and overall nowhere near as bad as the old fiestaware (particularly the red glaze) was.

        Just ask someone who’s got a geiger counter to go antique dish shopping with them to find out :)

        • oneandone says:

          @glater: Fiestaware! I was surprised to see that the company still exists & sells plates. Not the red ones, though. Passing around some of those and a geiger counter in class made me acutely aware of the fact that companies will do whatever they can to make a buck, public health & welfare be damned.

  17. aristan says:

    Melamine plates are the heavier plastic plates that everyone one and his brother has for heating up a slice of pizza, feeding the kids, or throwing a hot dog & chips on saturday afternoon. You probably have an entire set of these that your mother got in 1973. They’re probably Brown and cream or possibly Avacado in color. They likely have flowers or wheat on them. The hard plastic ladle in the kitchen is made of the same stuff.

    In other words, not exactly news.

    They don’t say plastic because Melamine Resin is a specific kind of plastic, made out of Melamine and Formaldehyde. It’s used to make dishes, utensils, and even Formica counter tops.

    In other words, as long as the owners of this bowl and spoon set don’t sit down and actually GNAW on the thing or grind it down with a belt sander before dinner, they’ll probably be perfectly fine.

  18. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    (Caution: Not to be taken internally)

  19. bluewyvern says:

    What an embarrasing oversight! They should have labeled it more accurately to distinguish the polymer from the chemical — clearly it should have said 3-Piece Melamine Formaldehyde Set For Kids. That would reassure the anxious parents!

  20. HogwartsAlum says:

    I grew up eating off melamine plates and I’m okay…okay…okay…okay…okay….

    ;)

  21. alice_bunnie says:

    I’m getting sick of knee jerk reactions to something someone just plain doesn’t understand. :/

  22. Eh… Target.com has a whole section (MANY pages long) of dinnerware made of Melamine, which is how it’s categorized on the website. I don’t think that’s really scaring anyone away from buying those plates.