If you are into food storage, you need to know about the dangers of plastic. This is why it is so important to know which plastics are safe for food storage.
The biggest concern for many people is whether they are using safe products in their homes, especially when handling food. Plastic food storage containers can be harmful if not chosen carefully, making this an important topic to keep in mind.
There are four types of plastics that we recommend to be safe for food storage. These plastics are Low-Density Polyethylene, High-Density Polyethylene, Polyethylene Terephthalate, and Polypropylene. These options are all free of toxic chemicals with durable storage properties.
The best plastics that are safe for food storage are the ones that don't contain BPA. It is important to always check the labels of plastics before using them to store foods. And while plastics provide many benefits, they also pose some risks to human health and the environment.
It is important to note that some plastics in the market may be labeled as "food grade," but in reality, they may not be safe for food contact. That is why it is important to check the packaging of the plastic container before you purchase it. This guide makes that easy to understand to keep you safe.
Which Plastics Are Safe For Food Storage?
There are many different types of plastics, and they can be classified into different categories based on their materials. Plastics have been a staple of society for decades, but it is only recently that we have started to understand the full extent of their impact on the environment and human health.
For example, you should try and find BPA-free plastic containers. This is an indication that they do not contain some of the harmful ingredients that could contaminate your food and cause long-term health effects.
It is critical to avoid toxins and chemicals in your plastic food storage containers. They can be harmful and present some long-term effects on your health. This is why you should only stick to these four plastic types for food storage.
1. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
LDPE is a thermoplastic polymer that is used for food storage. It is made from the monomer ethylene, which is heated and then cooled to create a long chain of molecules.
These molecules are then forced into a mold, where they form a thin film. This film can be stretched and molded into many shapes to create containers for food storage.
Typically, LDPE plastics are used in packaging for products and they work well to store perishable items because it does not react with food items and it can withstand high temperatures without breaking down or melting.
It is more flexible than other plastics, which makes it easier to seal and open. It has a lower density, which means it doesn't take up as much space in the fridge or freezer.
2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
HDPE is a type of plastic that is used in the production of food storage containers. It is a transparent and lightweight material that can be used to store food. It has high resistance to heat and chemicals which make it ideal for storing food for long periods.
It is a common misconception that HDPE plastic is unsafe to use for food storage because it can emit toxic chemicals into food. However, it should be noted that there are no known cases of this happening and the risk of this happening is low.
The best part about HDPE is how environmentally friendly it is. You can easily recycle these containers and they are beneficial in your home to reduce the carbon footprint of your family.
3. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
PET plastic is a type of plastic resin that is widely used in the production of food containers. This plastic is made from polyethylene terephthalate, which is a polymer that has properties that make it an excellent choice for food storage.
This is a strong plastic but exposure to high temperatures can present a risk. You should use this as a more short-term food storage solution for the fridge or one-time use situations.
The material does not react with any foods, and it does not leach any chemicals into them either. It also keeps its shape well when heated or frozen, which means you can make sure your frozen dinners will still be safe to eat when you take them out months later.
4. Polypropylene (PP)
Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic polymer that is used to make plastic containers for food storage. It is a type of plastic and has many benefits. For example, it is resistant to corrosion, it can be recycled, and it does not contain any bisphenol-A.
It is often used in containers that are microwavable, dishwasher safe, and freezable. Polypropylene can also be recycled and is known to be cost-effective and easy to use.
Which Plastics Are Not Safe For Food Storage?
Plastics are widely used in the food industry, but there are some types of plastics that should not be used for food storage. You must be mindful of the containers you use because they can contain harmful chemicals and toxins that leach into your food.
The chemicals that are made into these plastics are not safe for food storage because they can leach into the food and cause developmental problems in babies, as well as disrupt the hormonal system in adults. Try to always avoid the two plastics listed below for food storage in your home.
1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC is not safe for food storage because it has toxic chemicals that leach into food. Some of the chemicals include both lead and phthalates, both known to have unsafe effects on humans and animals.
You will see this type of plastic used often in plastic bags, so carefully examine the products you buy to ensure they are not made from PVC.
2. Polystyrene (PS)
PS containers are not safe for food storage because they have styrene in them which can be harmful to the human body. This chemical can cause neurological and developmental problems.
The main concern about using polystyrene in food storage items is that chemicals and toxins can leach out of the item and into the food. Styrene has been shown to cause cancer in animals and may also be carcinogenic for humans when ingested.
What Toxins & Chemicals Should You Avoid For Food Storage?
Food storage is very important for everybody and it serves as a great way to stay protected in the future. But if you are using the wrong plastics for your food, it can present a risk with potential exposure to dangerous chemicals.
To avoid these harmful chemicals from your food storage, you should avoid using plastic containers that contain the following chemicals listed below. They have many risks and downsides when exposure occurs.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A is a chemical that has been banned from many plastic products, but it is still used in the lining of canned foods. It can leach into the food and can cause hormonal imbalances.
The chemical can leach into the food or drink from the container, which could lead to serious health problems. BPA can also be released when a product is heated up or washed with soapy water.
Research shows that BPA can lead to developmental problems in children. These include reproductive and brain growth issues. It also is known to increase blood pressure after consistent exposure.
These are chemicals that are used to soften plastics and they have been linked to hormone disruption, infertility, and birth defects. They can also be found in some paper and plastic products like grocery bags and wraps.
The dangers of phthalates arise when they come into contact with the human body, which happens when we eat or drink from food or beverage containers that contain them or when we put these types of containers in our mouths.
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been used in various industrial and consumer products. PFAS has been linked to several health problems, including cancer, hormone disruption, high cholesterol, and obesity.
They are persistent in the environment and can be found in drinking water, food, and other sources. The reason why PFAS is so dangerous is that it has been linked to numerous health problems and much about their impact is still also unknown.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker