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What are ‘Food Grade’ Plastic containers?

February 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Worldwide food standards agencies require that plastics used in the packaging of food are far purer than plastics used for non-food packaging, hence the ‘food grade plastic’. Only plastics used to package pharmaceuticals have to meet higher standards.

Importantly, food grade plastic must not contain dyes or recycled plastic that could possibly be harmful to humans. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that food grade plastic can’t contain recycled plastic and there are detailed regulations concerning the use of recycled plastics in food packaging. Since most plastics these days do tend to be recycled, the plastic can come from any kind of source, old wheelie bins, toxic chemical containers etc.

Another important consideration in using plastic food containers is to ideally match the appropriate type of plastic to the food that is being transported in these plastic containers. If foods packaged in these plastic buckets are highly acidic, or contain alcohol or fats, there is a chance they can leach plastic additives from the container into the food. Therefore, you must only use plastic containers that are approved for the particular kind of food the plastic will be coming into contact with.


Food grade homebrew buckets

It’s not just the transportation of food that demands the use of food grade plastic. Preparation of foodstuffs must be carried out in these containers too. For instance, many people make their own homebrew, but may not be aware that they can’t use any old plastic bucket for the process. The heat that the beer reaches in these containers, combined with the alcohol content, mean that failure to use food grade plastic buckets could compromise the safety of the beer.

Finally, and very importantly, one should be aware that a plastic container will cease to be food grade if it has subsequently been used to store any other type of items, such as chemicals or detergent. A food grade plastic bucket used to hold paint or similar materials can only be used to hold those non-food substances after that.

Tags: plastic food containers food standards food grade plastic
Category: plastic food containers

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