Bojana Galic is the staff writer for Livestrong.com and is currently finishing her NASM personal training certification. Want to stockpile your own food but not sure where to start? Part 1 of 3: Identifying Plastics with BPA 1. Safe Materials There are several types of containers that are safe to use. This includes all the materials used during manufacturing as well as packaging. There aren’t any known health issues associated with PP plastics. It's denoted by a number 1 on plastic containers. In an attempt to provide the most up to date evidence based information, there are several differences than you will find in a general search. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/18/are-plastic-containers-safe-to-use-food-experts https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/is-plastic-a-threat-to-your-health. Yes, plastic # 5 (PP) is a widely used plastic that will hold up well in hot environments and can work well as food storage containers. Types Of Plastic . Note: HDPE is often used for non-food items like motor oil or cleaning products. For example, many food containers are made out of plastic #2 (HDPE). What does the number on plastic mean? Just be warned that not all buckets are food-grade quality – even if they are made from #2 HDPE plastic. © 2020. Plastics containing BPA are listed as safe under FDA regulations. She completed her undergrad education at New York University in 2018. The Resin Identification Code (RIC) is the little number in a triangle that you will see on most plastic packages. If you want to keep in mind what types of plastics you should and should not use, here’s a summary. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. Plastics are compounds created from fossil fuels, and plastics have some amazing capabilities and properties. While some of these plastics may be food safe, the problem is that you can’t be sure what’s in the plastic. Consider the original purpose of the packaging before you use it to preserve or store food. Like PET, HDPE is a frequently used, safe plastic container. The chemicals used in BPA-free containers, such as BPS and BPF, may be just as bad. Plastic #6 is Polystyrene and can leach a neurotoxin known as styrene. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. When it comes to chemicals in plastic packaging, Bisphenol A – or BPA – gets the most attention. Whether or not the new EA-free plastics are safe or whether they will turn out to have other harmful health effects, the fact remains that like all petroleum-based plastics, they are not biodegradable and will cause harm to the environment when not handled properly. (7, 8). Currently, there are no known health issues or concerns associated with this plastic and it is commonly recycled into new bottles or polyester fabric. Unlike other safe plastics, PP is not easily recycled due to varieties of type and grade, making it difficult to achieve the right consistency, according to the Sea Studios Foundation. However, the manufacturing of LDPE does produce organic pollutants, causing potential harm to the environment, according to the Sea Studios Foundation. It is very strong and durable, which is why it is used for items like milk jugs and buckets. And remember that regardless of the plastic code, do not microwave foods or drinks in plastic containers, as this causes the plasticizers to break down and leach chemicals. You need to be very careful here. Compared to other types of plastics, polypropylene is better able to withstand heat and exposure to acids or grease. Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t actually test plastics to see if they are safe or not. Polycarbonate plastic (often included in plastic seven), leaches bisphenol A (BPA) into food, a known endocrine disruptor. But, when temperatures get higher, dangerous chemicals start leaching into the contents at a faster rate. The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prepping for Beginners, 5 Potential Health Hazards of Canned Wine, Sea Studios Foundation: "Smart Plastics Guide", Chemical Safety Facts: "Types of Plastic Food Packaging and Safety: A Close-Up Look", American Academy of Pediatrics: "American Academy of Pediatrics Says Some Common Food Additives May Pose Health Risks to Children", PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION, Prioritize plastics that are on the safer end of the spectrum (types 1, 2, 4 and 5), Avoid using type three plastic with children's food or drink. If you live somewhere very hot, it might not be smart to use PET plastics for food storage. Even though PVC plastics are labeled as “food safe” by the FDA, it is best to avoid this type of plastic. However, HDPE containers do eventually break down, which can be problematic if you want to store water in recycled milk jugs. By David Johnston and Kim Master Care2.com 4-20-5 . HDPE is generally considered the best food safe plastic. Safe Plastic # 1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE) This is the plastic typically used in most clear pop bottles and water bottles. However, you should also study the issue for yourself, and decide how important you believe it is to avoid BPA, and how safe you think many “BPA free” plastics may be. This plastic is most often used for milk or water jugs, laundry detergents and shampoo bottles. Skip to main content. The word “plastics” covers a gamut of synthetic materials that are easy to manufacture, cheap to produce, and — with the help of chemical additives and processes — … If you've ever glanced at the bottom of your water bottle or meal prep container, you may have seen a number printed on the plastic. Look for the Food Safe symbol or it might be marked as USDA, FDA, or NSF approved. You don’t ever want to store food in buckets which may have contained cleaning supplies, motor oil, or other chemicals. Chemicals used in the manufacture of certain plastics include dioxins, adipates, and phthalates, all known carcinogens. When buying buckets for food storage, make sure they specifically say that they are food-grade. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the But many containers which are not food grade (such as buckets or gas cans) are also made from plastic #2. Rising worries about BPA coincided with the proliferation of plastics into every part of our economies and lives. As a general rule, PET plastic also isn’t recommended for long-term water storage because it develops tiny holes as it degrades, which can result in water leaking all over your floor. If a plastic packaging has been deemed “safe”, it will have the food safe symbol on it. Plastics are the result of science. A lot of people mistakenly believe that the RIC number tells you whether a plastic is safe for food or not. and Sometimes safe. This makes it less likely to leach chemicals. Most plastic containers, such as soda bottles, are designed to be biodegradable; they will break down over time. While plastic containers have been vilified for their potential health risks, some types are OK to use. The number 7 indicates that your container is constructed with a mixed variety of other plastics. diagnosis or treatment. Typically, mixed plastics are practically impossible to recycle and pose the most potential health hazards, according to the Sea Studios Foundation. But you don’t want to microwave even “microwave-safe” plastic, and I would encourage people to move to glass Tupperware ®, and glass or stainless steel water bottles. If your soda bottle or peanut butter jar has the number one printed on the bottom, it's a PET container, according to the Sea Studios Foundation. Which Plastics Are Safe to Use as Containers to Grow Food?. Now, one thing I want to say is even though you have that little rule of thumb, I personally avoid plastic around my food and drink products always. Better known as Styrofoam, polystyrene plastics are known to leach a chemical called styrene. (1, 2). HDPE products are safe and are not known to transmit any chemicals into foods or drinks, making this plastic a low health risk variety, according to Chemical Safety Facts. . Because of this, it’s an excellent choice for the garden.Verdict: Very safe, not known to transmit any chemicals into soil or food. FDA Approved for food contact? TPEs are a often a copolymer, which is a mixture of two or more kinds of plastics. For this reason, it is NOT recommended that you store water in recycled plastic containers. TPE plastics. Note: This information on safe plastic is not the same as you will find elsewhere on the web. Plastic storage bags (except those labeled as Microwave Safe) and grocery bags are not recommended for the microwave. Styrene is a chemical that can be released by polystyrene, which may act as a neurotoxin over time and has shown harmful effects on red-blood cells, the liver, kidney and stomach organs of animals, according to the Sea Studios Foundation. PP plastics are generally considered microwave and dishwasher safe. BPA may also create genetic damage and may effect development. While plastic containers have been vilified for potential health risks, some are OK to use. You’ll also want to make sure any lids you get are also food-grade. These chemicals can remain on the buckets, causing them to leach into your food. The news about plastics has been pretty alarming lately, causing some of us to go dashing for the water bottles to see what kind of plastic they are -- and find out if we've been unwittingly poisoning our children and ourselves with chemicals leaching into the water from them. Blockbuster plastics. It is generally considered a safer plastic for food and drinks usage when PP labware was used in scientific experiments (PP1), and one earlier study has suggested heated PP may be linked to occupational asthma based on the exposure of a worker in a PP factory (PP2). These plastics are thin films that are lighter weight than other categories of plastic, so they can melt or emit toxic chemicals if exposed to high temperatures, including the microwave. Just make sure you know with 100% certainty what was in the bucket. Leaf Group Ltd. Which Plastics Are Safe? While it is true that oil will dissolve some plastics, there are other container options that are completely safe. Inside the triangle there is sometimes a number, an… NOT SAFE. However, because BPA is associated with so many health risks, plastics containing BPA won’t make it on most food-safe plastic lists. Not usually recycled, LDPE (denoted by the number 4) is most commonly used to package bread or frozen food. However, because it is so flexible, it generally isn’t used for food or water storage. Plastic is widely used in yards, from the pipes in sprinkler systems to the barriers used to edge a walkway. Most plastic wraps are also made of LDPE and are intended for single use only. These should also be labeled as Food Safe and have never contained anything but food or water. Yes *FDA compliant means that a material meets all of the FDA’s guidelines for safe, direct contact with food. Food Safe Plastics: Which Plastic Containers Are Safe for Storing Food and Water? As far as anyone knows, these are safe, and there is no migration of dangerous chemicals into your drinks. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse Typically, these containers are either recycled back into new containers or converted into plastic lumber, pipes, rope or toys, according to the Sea Studios Foundation. Plastics containing BPA are listed as safe under FDA regulations. However, with new information about plastic safety, you may be worried about chemicals leaching into your food. Ideally, we shouldn’t even be putting plastic into the dishwasher. It’s essentially an official way of saying a material is food grade. Choose glass containers whenever possible. Instead, invest in some sturdier containers which are designed for water storage. Make sure you avoid them as much as possible around food, and never heat them. Low-density polyethelene is a generally safe plastic variety that has no known health risks associated with use. Rigid forms of PS plastic are typically found in CD cases or disposable cutlery, whereas formed PS typically comes in the form of styrofoam, including packaging peanuts, egg cartons or building insulation. any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. The issue is that some manufacturers use “mold release agents” to help get the mold off the buckets. All rights reserved. Be sure to check that there is a special marking on the container bottom: an icon with a schematic image of the microwave oven. If you are sensitive to EMFs, then you may have a problem. Learn which plastics are safe in this Howcast video featuring Alegre of Green and Greener. This is not the case. Plastic marked with a 2 is made of High-Density Polyethylene.​ You see HDPE everywhere, from milk jugs to detergent bottles. It’s one of the best and safest types of plastic for food consumption as it resists UV rays and is extremely heat tolerant ( -148 to 176 F / -100 to 80 C ). Plastic containers which are not food safe can leach chemicals into your food, potentially causing health issues later down the line. Many of them might contain BPA or other harmful chemicals and it’s likely that they could leach into your food or water. A list of these approved substances can be found in FDA’s database. Here are some steps you can take to safely handle your plastic: Copyright © The industry says its containers are safe but some experts point to a lack of data and warn that plastic and heat aren’t a good mix The microwave-safe plastic symbol can be found on the underside of plates and bowls, the back of dinnerware and side or bottom of cups and other containers. Glass. "Container gardening" is a fairly common practice, and plastic buckets are the medium of choice. People can cause problems for themselves when they think they can be safe microwaving with plastics too. advertisements are served by third party advertising companies. Make safe choices … by avoiding plastics with codes 3, 6, or 7 as much as possible, as well as generally reducing your exposure to all plastics. The first type is the safest of all the unsafe ones, but you should still be careful. Just because a plastic doesn’t contain BPA, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. While more and more research finds that plastics aren't good for us, what does that really mean for our Tupperware? At around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, levels of chemicals seem to be safe. Other countries have similar regulations. Some contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a … Microwaves are short waves and are used in cell phones; so if you really are paranoid about microwaves, best not to use a cell phone. Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prepping for Beginners. Exposure to these chemicals may lead to decreased birth weight, learning or behavioral problems in children or hormone disruption. Typically, this plastic is transluscent or opaque in color and has a high melting point, which typically makes these containers microwave or dishwasher safe, according to Chemical Safety Facts. Download the Ebook. They rely on manufacturers’ information and a lot of the chemicals in plastic haven’t actually been tested to determine if they are harmful. Compared to other types of food safe plastics, HDPE is the least likely to leach chemicals into its contents. ), choose ones which are: PETE is one of the most common food plastics and is generally considered safe. (3, 4). PVC is often found in clear food packaging or cling wrap, some plastic squeeze bottles, vinyl pipes and shower curtains. I hope that PlastiPure will continue to focus on making durable plastic products rather than single-use disposables. Polystyrene comes in rigid and formed shapes and is denoted by the number 5. Privacy Policy This number lets you know what type of plastic the container is made from. Copyright Policy The flimsier the plastic feels, the worse it is to pop it into a microwave. To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections, it is best to call your doctor before leaving the house if you are experiencing a high fever, shortness of breath or another, more serious symptom. , It should be avoided and never heated. While certain plastics can be risky, this doesn't mean you have to go and toss all your meal prep containers and water bottles. Just because a plastic doesn’t contain BPA, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. However, because BPA is associated with so many health risks, plastics containing BPA won’t make it on most food-safe plastic lists. You’ll learn about the methods you can use at home to store food for up to 25 years. Not all plastics are food-safe. Here’s what you need to know about food safe plastics for storing food and water, including food grade buckets and water containers. While it usually takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to degrade, the bottle will develop little pin-sized holes long before this. TPEs are the name for a group of plastics, and some are safer than others. While recycling this plastic is possible, it's not generally economically beneficial. Due to the potential risks PVC poses toward babies and young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding this plastic in kids' food containers. Don’t Buy Canned Survival Food Until You Read This! They are also associated with obesity, asthma, and birth defects. Read more: The 4-Week Meal-Prep Challenge. When you do have to use plastic containers (it’s hard to avoid plastic! Like PET, HDPE is a single-use container and should be properly recycled after use. So, the plastics that have the number 1,2,4, and 5 are generally safer 3, 6, and 7. If you need to store foods like tomato sauce (acidic) or vegetable oil (grease), PP containers might be the best choice. Which types of plastic containers are safe for food storage and which aren’t? I never store water in plastic bottles. Marking of plastic tableware. Steps. Read our review of WaterBrick storage containers. The chemical is terrible for the environment and also associated with numerous health issues. In addition to avoiding those three types of plastic, Bole also advises against microwaving any plastic altogether, even if it has the “microwave safe” label on it. Find out more about each material below. Polypropelene containers do not leach harmful chemicals into foods or liquids and are not associated with any known health issues. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the many other chemicals in plastic which could leach into your food or water. They do generate an electromagnetic field like all of your other large appliances. It is astounding that so many compounds can be made that have similar qualities without actually being the same. Some are made with BPA. Basically, the regulations make sure that any surface which comes in contact with food is non-toxic. These numbers are crucial for indicating and understanding the type of plastic you're using — and the potential health risks it may pose. Greenpeace commissioned a report on which types of plastics could be used to replace PVC in toys. Terms of Use Try Prime EN Hello, Sign in Account & Lists Sign in Account & Lists Returns & Orders Try Prime Cart. One of the most easily recycled plastic varieties, PET is commonly used for water or soda bottles, detergent containers and peanut butter jars. 2020 Not every plastic is suitable for use in a microwave oven. Buckets are an excellent way to store large quantities of food. Examine plastic products for labeling. Mixed plastics are typically used to construct lids, medical storage containers, five-gallon water bottles and sports water bottles, among other items. It contains phthalates, a group of chemicals which can affect sex hormones. Plastics Safe for Food Containers In general, the three most common plastics that are used for food storage lids and containers are polypropylene, high-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene. Safe Plastics. Bisphenol-A, a hormonal disruptor, is found in some plastics and can pass to the food, especially when it is reheated or cooked in the container. These include glass, steel, and a high quality plastic called HDPE or High-Density Polyethylene. (9). LDPE plastics are very flexible so are often used for items like six-pack rings or squeeze bottles. PP #5. How do we know the plastic used in food packaging is safe and not toxic? If you are looking for safe plastics for your plastic water bottle, then this chart may help. This type of plastic is one of the least recyclable varieties due to the chemical additives. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Number 7 plastics are made up of various resins, which fit into no other categories; while some are safe, some are suspect. The other ones might be dangerous if they are handled improperly. (6). In the United States, the FDA is responsible for regulating “Food Contact Substance” (FCS) safety. This is the information you need to build comprehensive food storage for a rainy day. One of those plastics are TPEs (thermoplastic elastomers). If you have limited space or a short growing season, you may be considering growing food in small containers. However, there have been reports of PETE water bottles leaching chemicals – especially when exposed to high temperatures. Find out which are safe and which may be hazardous. This plastics identification chart should make recycling and sorting your plastic a little easier.It also shows some of the common plastic items in a home that are likely to leak chemicals into our food and bodies, so that you know which plastics are safe and which to avoid.