All you need to know about food grade plastic

Food grade plastics: which ones can be considered safe?

Monday 20 February 2023

Food grade plastic is a type of plastic that can be used for food packaging and other applications in the food industry because it is specifically designed to come into contact with food. It is different from other plastics in that it must meet certain standards of safety and quality and groups within it different types of plastics, which differ in particular characteristics and properties. Food grade plastics can be used in a variety of industries: from food storage and processing, to the production of plastic equipment for food companies, to packaging and shipping.

As we have seen, there are different types of plastic for food, but they all have one thing in common: they must not contain additives or chemicals, which could damage foods or alter their properties. Food-grade plastics must meet certain production standards and certificates of conformity to ensure that they contain food safely. Let’s see together what are the different types of plastics for food and their main characteristics.

Food grade plastics: types and characteristics

Plastic is one of the most widely used materials for the production of packaging and food contact products. It is in fact a lightweight material, shock resistant, hygienic and durable, but to be considered suitable for food contact must have precise characteristics. Plastics used to produce MOCA, that is, materials and articles in contact with food, such as packaging, foil and even containers or equipment used for the storage or transport of food, must guarantee food safety, or to exclude the migration of substances to foods with which they come into contact and to maintain the organoleptic characteristics of the food.

There are two main types of food grade plastics: polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). PE is one of the most used plastic materials in the food industry, considered safe and resistant, commonly used for the production of bottles, containers and packaging of products such as milk, yogurt and water bottles, because it has high strength but is also quite light.

Polypropylene, on the other hand, is considered the safest plastic for food and is mainly used for the production of bottles, boxes, trays with lids, but also plastic equipment for the storage and handling of products. Another type of plastic widely used in the food industry is PET (acronym of polyethylene terephthalate), generally used for the production of transparent disposable containers, bottles for water and drinks and for containers of some foods. Usually its use is limited to the preservation of cold products as sensitive to heat.

Can food grade plastic be considered safe?

Before use in the food sector, products intended for contact with food must pass specific laboratory tests in order to comply with current safety regulations, to ascertain the absence of toxic elements and the suitability of food for storage. The reference standards for all MOCA are EC Regulation 1935/2004 and EC Regulation 2023/06 that provide all the basic indications for the production of food contact materials. 

All plastic equipment for the food industry produced by IFT is safe and manufactured in full compliance with European standards and directives on safety, to ensure the quality and complete conformity of all products. IFT food technologies in polyethylene and polypropylene, such as plastic food boxes, grilled boards, drying frames, holed boards and plastic food trays are in fact produced with certified raw materials and manufactured according to the directives of the national ministerial decree and the EC directives on contact with food (EC Regulation 10/2011, EC Regulation 1935/2004 and 2023/2006, EC Directive 19/2007 and EC Directive 2002/1972).

For more information on plastic equipment proposed by IFT, do not hesitate to contact us!