Which Plastics Are Safe For Food Storage?
Broadly, and in very simple terms, there are two kinds of plastics – the ones that cannot be recycled and the ones that can be recycled for storing food or water. The second type is the one that can be reused and hence, is ideal for storing foods. Here’s an enumeration of the different types of plastics that you can safely use to store your foods at home:
• PET or PETE – Almost all of us must have heard about Pet bottles, which are the safest to use to storing food or water. These are made of the Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), the kind of plastic which is considered to be the best in terms of recycling. PET plastics are tough and hence, good for long term use. They are also clear and have gas and moisture barrier properties. These, in turn, make them best suited to store beverages like juices, water, soft drinks, etc. You can even store pickles, butter, marmalades, etc in these containers.
• HDPE – You can see High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) being commonly used as milk bottles and juice containers. This ranks the second best in the recycling triangle diagram. Colored or translucent, they can be of different shapes and sizes. Though not as tough as PET, they are considerably stiff and can be used to store products with short shelf life (like milk). However, milk containers are difficult to sanitize, which eventually cause it to break. Hence, milk jugs (made out of HDPE) are not good food storage containers. You can also store water in them, for purposes like laundry or washing utensils, but not for drinking purposes.
• PVC - Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) ranks third in the triangle code. PVC can be used for storing food. However, ensure that the container is not treated for industry or construction usage before storing food in it. This is also extensively used for non-food purposes, like surrounding electrical cables and as part of window frames, floor tiles, water pipes, etc.
• LDPE - Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) comes fourth and is used as frozen food bags or to store breads. It is also used to make squeezable bottles for storing mustard, honey, ketchups, jams, etc. While it is fine to use them to store foods that have a short shelf life, it is advisable not to use them for long-term food storage.
• PP - Polypropylene (PP) comes next and you can see this being used as yogurt containers, margarine tubs and medicine bottles. It is also used to make ice scrapers, refrigerator food storage bins, oil funnels, etc.
These are five top categories of safe plastics for food storage. Normally, plastic containers have their triangle code stamped on their bodies. Always ensure to check this code and use them to store food accordingly. Following the healthy practice of using the right plastic to store the right food will surely minimize the risks of falling sick and at the same time let you store food in the best possible way.