Safe Plastics For Food and Drink

Food Safe Plastics

Plastics that come in contact with your food or drink ‘should’ be safe based on the following general information. Look for the Recycle symbol (often on the bottom of the container) and read the number located inside the symbol.

The following list cross-references the recycle number (recycling symbol) with what is generally considered safe for food (or not safe).


 

Plastics Generally Considered Safe for Food and Drink

  • #2 HDPE  (high density polyethylene) *see note below
  • #4 LDPE  (low density polyethylene)
  • #5 PP  (polypropylene)

 

Plastic Water Bottle or Soft Drink Container

Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle

  • #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) typical water, soda, and juice bottles, not designed for reuse or storage due to the possibility of bacterial buildup, be sure to properly clean them if reusing.

 

 

Risky Plastics Not Safe for Food and Drink

These may leach or have hazardous ingredients.

  • #3 PVC  (polyvinyl chloride) carcinogens during manufacture and incineration
  • #6 PS  (polystyrene) possible carcinogen
  • #7 other  (usually polycarbonate, sometimes labeled PC)  may leach BPA (Bisphenol-A)

 

 
BPA-Free Insulated Water Bottle

 

Food Grade Buckets

5-gallon ‘food grade’ buckets are made of #2 HDPE, and are opaque or mostly opaque which minimizes the amount of light penetration. If the bucket is considered ‘food grade’ it is typically marketed as such and / or labeled “Food Grade”, “Food Safe”, etc. Some food grade buckets or containers will include a cup-and-fork symbol as an indicator. A food-grade bucket or container might also be specifically marked as USDA approved (or FDA or NSF approved).

The typical ‘blue’ water storage containers or water barrels are also made of high density polyethylene (#2 HDPE) and are marketed as food safe.

If you will be storing food directly in a plastic bucket or container, or if you will be using the container for drinking water, you might verify the material is food-safe before you purchase.

 

*Notes

All food grade buckets are made of HDPE #2 (high density polyethylene),
but not all HDPE #2 buckets are food grade.

Buckets that are not food grade may out-gas and leach into the container, as well as into the contents held within the container.

HDPE #2 buckets that are not food grade may have been manufactured with a non-food-grade “mold release agent”.

In some processes, a mold release agent is what is used to help get the newly shaped plastic off of the hard mold that it was shaped from during the manufacturing process. Without the release agent, the new plastic shape will likely stick to the mold. Some mold release agents enable much faster production than others, but may be toxic to your health if later used with food.

Other processes apparently do not use a mold release agent and only use high pressure compressed air to blow the bottles into shape on the inside. No mold release agent of any kind is used inside the bottles of this process.

If you are unsure, you might simply contact the supplier or manufacturer to confirm.

59 Comments


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  1. Andy from Idaho June 13, 2012 8:04 AM
  2. Liam March 17, 2013 12:05 PM
    • Jet August 14, 2015 2:19 AM
  3. Steve April 12, 2013 7:58 AM
    • Paul October 26, 2016 2:18 AM
  4. Dennis May 24, 2013 1:17 PM
  5. W November 25, 2013 3:22 PM
  6. Shaun March 1, 2014 12:42 PM
  7. imad March 3, 2014 12:05 PM
  8. JaiLee April 24, 2014 7:09 PM
    • Peanut_Gallery April 24, 2014 9:25 PM
      • Eh April 24, 2014 9:33 PM
        • CPVC April 25, 2014 8:51 AM
        • Nope September 21, 2015 12:28 PM
      • Tammy April 26, 2014 1:56 PM
        • bub May 20, 2014 3:39 AM
      • PVC for incoming water lines May 21, 2015 3:29 PM
      • James July 13, 2015 9:34 AM
    • Perugu Balasubramanyam November 3, 2014 9:13 AM
    • john May 13, 2017 10:17 PM
  9. Peanut_Gallery April 24, 2014 9:33 PM
  10. Question on number 7 plastic April 24, 2014 11:00 PM
  11. Anonymous April 24, 2014 11:19 PM
  12. Anonymous May 9, 2014 6:07 PM
  13. Question Re Food Grade Symbol July 30, 2014 10:48 AM
  14. General outdated naive info January 15, 2015 11:23 AM
    • Nope September 21, 2015 12:31 PM
      • Roadcase March 19, 2016 3:18 AM
    • World in Pains July 19, 2016 7:22 AM
  15. Liz February 9, 2015 3:37 PM
  16. looking at larger water storage tanks April 2, 2015 1:50 PM
  17. looking at larger water storage tanks April 2, 2015 1:54 PM
  18. JTR April 5, 2015 11:15 AM
    • Anon April 5, 2015 2:43 PM
      • Anon April 5, 2015 2:45 PM
  19. plastic growing containers April 22, 2015 3:14 PM
    • MostlyPlanted April 22, 2015 11:09 PM
      • plastic growing containers April 23, 2015 7:18 PM
        • MostlyPlanted April 23, 2015 8:05 PM
        • Anonymous May 28, 2016 2:14 AM
  20. Anon April 22, 2015 5:10 PM
    • Beach'n April 23, 2015 8:33 AM
      • plastic growing containers April 23, 2015 7:44 PM
  21. Root barrier July 19, 2015 8:21 AM
    • Banks Rather Than Tanks July 19, 2015 9:42 AM
  22. Lynette July 27, 2015 9:32 AM
  23. gunner33 September 2, 2015 5:10 AM
    • Sonny February 12, 2017 9:20 AM
  24. PVC vs. PVDC?? September 3, 2015 8:05 AM
  25. DanLee September 9, 2015 8:04 PM
  26. Ivy September 14, 2015 11:52 AM
  27. Alyse September 30, 2015 11:47 AM
    • Anonymous December 24, 2015 12:35 PM
  28. Mr. Rational January 28, 2016 2:03 PM
  29. Terry Koreman January 29, 2016 8:41 PM
  30. HDPE2 March 13, 2016 8:57 AM
  31. B. Andras July 20, 2016 9:02 AM
    • NRP July 20, 2016 10:03 AM
      • B. Andras December 19, 2016 1:23 PM
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