What Makes Food Grade Plastic “Food Grade”?

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For cost, performance, and a host of other reasons, plastic is a material of choice for manufacturing countless products in the modern world. Many of the items you use every day could not and would not exist without plastics of some kind, whether as a material of construction or as a component of the manufacturing process (i.e. production equipment, etc.)

One of the biggest markets for plastics today is food preparation and packaging. Like many industries, the food industry requires specialized materials that must meet certain criteria. But what exactly make “food grade” plastic food grade?

It will come into direct contact with food during harvesting, processing, or packaging processes, but “food grade” plastic is, of course, not edible. And, it is distinctly different from “environmentally friendly,” “sustainable,” or “biodegradable” plastic materials.

In order to be deemed food grade, plastic must be certified by an agency such as the FDA or NSA. This agency will start by taking a close look at the chemical composition of the material. There must be nothing in the plastic that can harm the food supply or affect the color, odor, or taste of the food.

Next, the certifying agency will observe how the plastic performs during extended use. The material’s reactions to a wide range of temperatures, alcohols, greases, and other factors are noted. Conditions that may limit its use are cataloged.

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