Food grade plastic is a type of plastic that is specifically designed for the safe storage of food and water. It is crucial to choose the right type of plastic for food storage, as using non-food grade plastics can pose potential health risks.
With the vast array of plastic products available in the market, identifying which ones are safe for food use can be challenging. This article aims to provide an objective and informative guide on food grade plastic and how to store food and water safely.
It will explore the different types of food grade plastics, their characteristics, and the potential risks associated with using non-food grade plastics. This article will also provide tips for safe storage of food and water, including proper labeling, storage temperature, and handling techniques.
By following the guidelines outlined in this article, readers can make informed decisions when choosing food grade plastic products for their homes and ensure the safety and health of their families.
- Only certain types of plastic are considered food grade and safe for human consumption.
- It is important to look for the recycle symbol and number inside the plastic to determine if it is food grade.
- Glass containers and stainless steel are ideal for long-term food and water storage, but plastics cannot be completely avoided in the modern world.
- Plastic taste in water or food may indicate leaching of potentially harmful chemicals, so it is important to use food-grade storage plastics whenever possible.
What is Food Grade Plastic?
Food grade plastic is the only type of plastic that is safe for human consumption and is determined by the recycle symbol and number inside the container.
The most common food grade plastics are #1 PETE, #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE, and #5 PP. #1 PETE is used for plastic water bottles and soft drink containers, while #2 HDPE is used for plastic milk jugs and some food grade storage buckets. #4 LDPE is a lightweight plastic used for shopping bags and some juice and milk cartons, while #5 PP is a strong, durable plastic used for plastic cups, baby bottles, kitchenware, and microwave plastic containers.
On the other hand, #3 PVC, #6 PS, and #7 PC are risky plastics not safe for food and drink due to potential leaching or hazardous ingredients.
Food grade plastic has specific characteristics that make it safe for human consumption. It does not contain harmful chemicals or substances that can leach into food or beverages, and it can withstand the conditions of food storage such as temperature changes and exposure to light.
Food grade buckets are typically made of #2 HDPE and labeled as food safe, with the cup and fork symbol or USDA/FDA/NSF approval. It is important to use food-grade storage plastics whenever possible and to spend a few extra bucks to get food grade plastic for storage.
Technology has improved since older plastic containers were made, and they may no longer be safe for food storage.
Safe Plastics for Food
The classification of plastic materials as safe for the storage of consumable items is determined by the presence of specific identification symbols and numbers within the plastic composition.
The numbers #1, #2, #4, and #5 are generally considered food safe, while #3 PVC, #6 PS, and #7 PC are risky plastics not safe for food and drink due to potential leaching or hazardous ingredients.
1 PETE is used for plastic water bottles and soft drink containers, while #2 HDPE is used for plastic milk jugs and some food grade storage buckets.
Meanwhile, #4 LDPE is lightweight plastic used for shopping bags and some juice and milk cartons, and #5 PP is a strong, durable plastic used for plastic cups, baby bottles, kitchenware, and microwave plastic containers.
Plastic toxicity is a major concern in the world of food storage, as non-food grade buckets may out-gas and leach into the container and contents.
Mold release agents used in non-food grade #2 HDPE buckets may also be toxic if later used with food.
It is recommended to use food-grade storage plastics whenever possible, and to spend a few extra bucks to get food grade plastic for storage.
Additionally, technology has improved since older plastic containers were made, and they may no longer be safe for food storage.
Therefore, exploring plastic alternatives, such as glass containers, may be the safest option for storing food.
Unsafe Plastics for Food
The potential hazards of plastic materials in food storage are a major concern, particularly with #3 PVC, #6 PS, and #7 PC plastics. These plastics are not safe for food and drink due to the risk of leaching or hazardous ingredients.
3 PVC contains phthalates, which are toxic chemicals used to soften plastic. These chemicals have been linked to reproductive problems and developmental issues in children.
6 PS contains styrene, a toxic chemical that has been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders.
7 PC contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a hormone disruptor that has been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Toxic chemicals in plastic can also off-gas, which means they release harmful gases into the air. This can happen when plastic containers are heated, such as when they are used in the microwave or dishwasher.
When toxic chemicals off-gas, they can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, which can be harmful to health. To reduce the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in plastic, it is important to choose food grade plastics that are labeled as safe for food and to avoid heating plastic containers.
Water and Food Storage
Glass and stainless steel containers provide ideal long-term storage options for both water and food. Plastics cannot be completely avoided in the modern world, but #2 HDPE containers may not be safe for long-term storage. Mylar bags are a suitable alternative for storing food, especially in non-food grade buckets.
Pickle smell can penetrate plastic containers and contaminate food, and plastics used in beer or wine making processes should be avoided. Additionally, potential contaminants such as BPA in cans and preservatives in long-term storage foods can be a concern. Vinegars and high acid foods can degrade flat canning lids, but Ball canning lids with a ‘Dot’ between the ‘flower’ pattern or ‘Made in the USA’ are BPA-free.
When it comes to water storage, glass and stainless steel containers are the best long-term options. PVC pipes are suitable for potable drinking water, and hydroponic setups using PVC pipes with holes drilled in them are effective. However, caution must be taken with water storage in plastic containers, as the fluorine gas treatment of HDPE containers can leach PFAS into the water.
In India, water purification plants dispense water in 20-liter cans made from HDPE plastic, but the safety of plastic rain barrels for collecting water for plants is unknown. Overall, it is important to consider potential contaminants when storing both food and water in plastic containers.
Moderation and common sense are key factors to consider when it comes to container storage, especially in terms of potential contaminants and safety concerns for both food and water.
It is important to be aware of the risks associated with certain materials and to choose food grade plastics whenever possible, but it is also important to use alternative materials when necessary and to take steps to purify water and preserve food.
Some historical methods of water purification involved the consumption of alcohol, as it was believed to kill bacteria and other harmful organisms. While this is not a recommended method today, it is important to remember that clean water is essential for survival and that there are many effective purifying techniques available.
In addition to being mindful of container safety, it is important to consider the broader implications of our food and water choices.
Food preservatives, for example, may be necessary for long-term storage, but they can also have negative health effects. Similarly, the use of heavy metals in ceramic glazes can raise concerns about the safety of food and drink served in these products.
As we continue to develop new materials and technologies, it is important to prioritize safety and sustainability in our food and water storage practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can plastic containers be reused for food storage after being used for non-food items?
Upcycling plastic containers previously used for non-food items for food storage is not recommended, as it can lead to the presence of harmful chemicals. It is important to use food-safe plastics for storing food.
Are plastic cutting boards safe for food preparation?
Plastic cutting boards are safe for food preparation as they are easy to sanitize, lightweight, and affordable. However, alternatives such as wood or bamboo may be preferred for their natural antibacterial properties and durability.
Is it safe to drink water from a plastic bottle that has been left in a hot car?
Drinking water safety may be compromised when leaving plastic bottles in hot cars due to potential plastic chemical leaching. Health concerns arise from exposure to harmful chemicals, emphasizing the need for proper storage and caution.
Can plastic containers be used for long-term storage of acidic foods such as tomatoes or citrus fruits?
Long-term storage of acidic foods such as tomatoes or citrus fruits in plastic containers raises concerns about potential leaching of harmful chemicals. Alternative materials such as glass or ceramic are safer options for storing acidic foods.
What is the safest way to clean plastic containers used for food storage?
Effective cleaning and disinfecting methods for food grade plastic containers include washing with hot, soapy water and using a solution of vinegar and water. Avoid cross contamination during storage by labeling containers and using separate containers for raw and cooked foods.