paint for eating surface

Is there a required or desired type of paint (not brand but TYPE) of paint that should be used for surfaces that food will be served on? I'm gonna be painting my dining room table and was wondering if this was a job for oil based satin finish or latex flat finish or paint then a coat of varnish or some other obscure combination. I'm guessing satin or gloss finish due to the increased durability with regards to washing, but wasn't sure if oil was preferred to latex or whether it would be best to avoid paint altogether for health reasons.
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Hello Eigen, I know this does not answer your question exactly as you ask it but there is a product manufactured by Genral Finishes called Salad Bowl Finish and I think it is rated by the FDA (or is that the CIA) as being safe for eating utensils and surfaces when dry. Woodcraft sells it and here is their link; http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid=752
Hope this helps, Marc
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Eigenvector wrote:

Use a polyurethane or a precatalyzed lacquer. If it's not actually in contact with food, health isn't the issue, the issue is cleaning--you want something that doesn't stain easily.
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We are on kind of old turf here, so to be blunt:
- Will anyone be eating the dried paint? - Will anyone be eating off the table top? - Will you be using lead based paint to finish?
If the answer is "no", don't worry about poisoning yourself, or even making yourself sick.
In general terms, solvent based paints dry harder than latex. So do the solvent based clear coats (lacquers, polys, etc.). Solvent based paints are also significantly more cleanable.
An industrial grade colored oil based coating (enamel) sold at a real paint store will dry harder than you will believe. About three coats of that stuff will give you what you seek, which is a washable surface with great abrasion resistance. I use different brands for high usage surfaces like handrails, restaurant doors, etc., when the clients want color.
Clear coats such as lacquer and poly don't really get hard until you get into the two part systems that you catalyze before using. These finishes are not for the inexperienced.
And in general terms, high gloss finishes will be the hardest, most abrasion resistant finishes. When you apply the high gloss version, you have the least silica, zinc, clay, or whatever else the manufacturer puts in the finish to dull its reflectivity, leaving you with pretty much the cured resin as the end product.
Robert
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Yeah I knew this would be an old hat question. But honestly I had a difficult time finding a useful answer using Google. The tendency to put advertising responses first makes it really tough to slog through to the generic answers. How you phrase the question really effects the answers it puts out.
I'm finding that search engine to be less and less useful as time goes by.

Thanks, I'll talk to the paint store guys and see what they suggest. I have a good working relationship with a real good paintstore, but I like to have some idea of what I'm looking for before going in.
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safe once they are dry (not including some artists paints). So oil based, latex enamal etc are fine. If you are going for a artsy look just go for it, if you are going for durbility see above posts
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