Food Grade Plastic: Which Plastics Are Safe For Food Storage
Plastic is widely used in the world for storing food but has recently been found to contain harmful chemicals such as BPAs. BPAs are unsafe for human consumption and lead to health problems. This raises the important question of which plastics are safe.
Plastic containers come with a food-grade rating on the bottom that ranges from 1 to 7. This gives consumers an idea of how safe they are for storing their food. Plastic grades 2, 4, and 5 are the safest for food storage. Using these plastics to store food will prevent accidental toxin ingestion.
What Does Food Grade Mean in Plastics?
Food-grade plastic has to meet regulations. It can’t contain dyes, additives, or any harmful products. Food-safe plastic can contain recycled materials, but these must fit appropriate guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for determining how materials may act when in contact with food.
FDA-Approved Plastics: Food-Safe Plastic Containers for Storage
These are the food-safe plastic containers that the FDA has deemed appropriate for safe food storage:
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE plastic)
- Low-density polyethylene (LDPE plastic)
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE)
- Food-grade polypropylene (PP)
- Polycarbonate (PC)
Is HDPE Food Safe?
Many plastic containers are HDPE safe. This is because they contain chemical-resistant properties. HPDE food-safe containers do not harm the user. They provide resistance to mold, mildew, and corrosion.
Plastic Safety: Is LDPE Food Safe?
Thinner resins and rigid applications use a tough material that is chemical resistant. This prevents toxins from leaching into food, meaning that LDPE is food safe. It ranks at a 4 on the recycling number chart. LDPE safety includes products such as bread bags, six-pack rings, and produce bags.
Is PET Plastic Food Safe?
Polyethylene terephthalate has great wear resistance, strength, and stability. PET plastic safety is ensured by this. Food-grade PET items include single-serve beverage bottles, vitamin bottles, and condiment bottles.
These include plastic bottles that are safe for one-time usage. They’re safe when used only once, but they become unsafe and leak toxins if re-used or stored in the sun.
So, Is Polyethylene Toxic?
Polyethylene is generally safe and non toxic. Polyethylene food safety involves not leaving these containers in hot places. Otherwise, UV rays can break them down and be dangerous. These plastics should also never be re-used since polystyrene food containers are known to give off dangerous levels of BPA.
Is Polypropylene Safe as a Food Grade Plastic?
Polypropylene fabric is used for many applications, including bale wrap, pallet sheets, and reinforcements. It is a very durable material that is also chemical resistant. Due to its high heat resistance, polypropylene safety is very high.
Polypropylene food-safe containers include medication bottles, dairy containers, and food storage boxes. Propylene food safety is made possible by its high heat tolerance, which ensures the plastics will not leak toxins when breaking down.
This plastic also has excellent thermal resistance, making it safe for use in the microwave and dishwasher. PP plastic is safe for food storage as well.
Is Polycarbonate Food Safe & FDA Compliant?
Food grade polycarbonate is very strong and much more impact resistant than glass. Its heat resistance allows it to be FDA compliant for food storage. But, is polycarbonate safe? Yes, it is a material that has high impact resistance and is very safe.
Polycarbonates are safe for food storage and are often used for:
- Water-cooler bottles
- Baby bottles
- Reusable water containers
They’re also used to make bullet-proof plastic, ensuring it is a very durable material.
Bioplastics are also included under rank 7 and are non-reactive and may be used to store food safely. Even so, it’s been shown to have levels of BPA in the resin but after testing, the BPA levels were too low for BPA to accumulate in the body.
Is Acrylic Food Safe?
If you’re wondering, “is acrylic safe for food?” Acrylic food safety is high as it is a strong material and used instead of glass containers. They are FDA approved for contact with food but acrylic food-safe containers should not be microwaved or heated as they do not have high heat resistance.
Is Nylon Food Safe?
Nylon is food-safe and a very common thermoplastic material. It’s properties allow it to replace steel, brass, wood, and rubber and is FDA-compliant since it doesn’t leach chemical properties into food when cooking.
Nylon products include cooking utensils such as spatulas, whisks, and tongs as they have high heat abrasion. But, does nylon have BPA? Nylon does not contain BPA and is ranked 7 on the resin identification code.
What about Food Grade Plastic Bottles?
Food safe plastic bottles include code numbers 2,4, and 5 for storage as they are food grade. Code number 1 is safe for single-use. If re-used, they become dangerous.
Are HDPE bottles safe, though? They are, and they rank as 2 and are safe for food storage.
Are PP bottles safe? They rank at 6 and aren’t the best choice as they leak poisonous gasses when heated. Bottles ranked at 3 and 7 should be avoided when storing food as they leak chemicals into the food. They are also dangerous when heated.
Safe Plastics Number Chart for Food Grade Plastic
The safe plastic numbers chart provides a recycling number on the bottom of each container ranging from 1 to 7. By checking this number, you can tell if it it is safe to store food in this container.
The green ones are non-toxic plastics; they provide no toxic leaching, whereas the red ones should be avoided.
What Plastic Numbers Are Safe for Food Storage?
Safe plastic numbers include 2, 4, and 5. These containers can store food without any toxic chemicals infiltrating. These include the materials HDPE, LDPE, and PP. They are marked as green in the picture.
This table breaks down each plastic and its recycling number:
|Plastic Number||Plastic||Safe for Food?||Usage|
|1||PET||Yes||One-time use bottles|
|2||HDPE||Yes||Juice and milk jugs|
|3||PVC||No||Pipe, hoses, and packing|
|4||LDPE||Yes||Bread and produce bags|
|5||PP||Yes||Medication bottles, food storage boxes|
|6||PS||No||Plastic cutlery, coffee cups|
|7||Other Plastics||Yes||Baby bottles, water bottles|
Other Uses for Food Grade Plastic
Here are some of the other uses for food-grade plastics:
- Food grade bulk bags
- Plastic produce bags
- Snack barrier pouches
- Bread bags
Plastics to Avoid for Food Storage
Here are some of the plastics that should not be used to store food as they are known for leaching chemicals:
- BPA (Bisphenol A)
- Polystyrene (PS)
Our Conclusion on Which Plastics Are Safe
Now that we’ve broken down each plastic and its uses, which plastics are safe? Following the safe plastics number chart, plastics ranked 2, 4, and 5 are safe for food storage. Plastics ranked as 1 are only safe if used once and not left in direct sunlight. Avoid using any plastics ranked 3 or 6.
With the rising awareness of toxins in plastics, it’s important to know how you can safely store your food. Using the proper food storage containers prevents unwanted bacteria and toxins from entering the body. This prevents serious health concerns and makes the earth greener by using renewable materials.
Be sure to also check out our BRC meaning guide for more information on the role that the BRCGS plays in food safety.
FAQs on Food Safe Plastics
Here are some commonly asked questions regarding food-safe plastics.
What are the safest plastic food storage containers?
The safest plastic food storage containers are HDPE, LDPE, and PP plastics. These include juice and milk jugs, grocery bags, bread bags, produce bags, and food storage boxes. Food can be stored in these types of plastic containers without any toxins leaking.
What is the safest material for food storage?
Glass, stainless steel, silicone, and ceramic containers are the safest for food storage. They have the most heat resistance and do not leak toxins into your food. Glass is microwave-safe, toxin-free, and dishwasher-safe.
Stainless steel is also toxin-free, dishwasher-safe, and oven-safe. Silicone containers are also non-toxic and do not leach off chemicals when heated in the microwave or oven. Ceramic containers are toxin-free, microwave safe, and dishwasher safe.
What can I use instead of plastic containers?
Plastic containers are bad for the environment and humans. They are nonrenewable and contain BPAs. Glass containers are a great way to avoid BPA contamination. They are also heat-resistant.
Silicone containers are also a renewable option that doesn’t release toxins when heated. Stainless steel is another option that is toxin-free and very heat resistant.
Is polypropylene toxic to humans?
Polypropylene is ranked at 5 and is safe for food storage. Polypropylene is FDA-approved for food contact and also has a high heat tolerance. It is known to be a safer alternative to most other plastics. It can be used to heat beverages or foods without leaching. However, it can leach plastic additives and lead to occupational asthma. Most additives are found at a very low amount. Studies show that PP is not carcinogenic.
For more information on food grade plastics and food grade bulk bags, contact us today!