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By the Numbers: Food Grade Plastics

Posted by Josh Kaufman on 4/12/2016 to Food Service

Plastics have become a part of everyday life, and the food service industry is no exception. Maybe you haven’t even realized it, but when you stop to think about it, plastics are everywhere. Some foods and ingredients come in plastic containers. You may use plastic utensils to prepare food and plastic containers to store it. Plastic is popular because of its durability and affordability, but it also has been at the center of recent debate over health concerns. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the different kinds of plastics and use food grade plastics whenever possible.

In an article by Dr. Matthew Hoffman, bisphenol A (BPA) was listed as a chemical drawing criticism. BPA, previously believed to be safe, is commonly found in water bottles and food packaging like cans. It has been linked to disruption of reproductive development, as well as diabetes, heart disease, liver toxicity, and cancer.

BPA and other components from plastic can get into food through the virtually unavoidable process of leaching. Heating food in plastic containers increases the odds of leaching, and foods that are fatty, salty, or acidic are more likely to be affected by leaching.

Food grade plastics are the safest kinds of plastics. But do you know to identify them? Worry not; it’s as simple as knowing the numbers.

Have you ever noticed the recycling symbols and numbers on plastic items? The numbers, which go from 1-7, identify what kind of plastic the item is made with. Food grade plastics are identified with a 1, 2, 4, or 5. Here’s a closer look by the numbers:

·         1 — Identifies polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). It is used to make a variety of condiment bottles and jars. Healthy and green living expert Annie Bond reports that it is not known to leach any harmful chemicals.

·         2 — Identifies high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It is used for milk, water, and juice bottles; yogurt and margarine tubs; cereal box liners; and grocery and trash bags. It is not known to leach harmful chemicals.

·         4 — Identifies low-density polyethylene (LDPE). It is used in some bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles. While not as highly regarded as #1 or #2 or recycled as often, it is not known to leach harmful chemicals.

·         5 — Identifies polypropylene (PP). It is used in some ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs. It is not known to leach harmful chemicals, although it can be hazardous during production.

Plastics to avoid:

·         3 — Identifies polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC). It is commonly used to cling-wrap meats, cheeses, and other deli foods. Traces of chemicals can leach into food and pose a risk to people.

·         6 — Identifies polystyrene (PS). It is used in foam insulation and is suspected to pose a health risk.

·         7 — Identifies any other material that doesn’t fall under the other categories. It is sometimes used in microwave ovenware, eating utensils, and metal cans. It can leach into food over time and pose health risks.

To guarantee safety, be diligent and check the number in the recycling symbol to make sure you are using food grade plastic for anything that comes into contact with food when you are preparing, serving, or storing it. For added protection, practice the following:

·        Use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave.

·         Don’t microwave food in plastic containers.

·         Discard scratched or worn plastic containers.

·         Limit use of plastic by using dishware and containers made from glass or stainless steel instead.

Safety is a priority at SINKSNMORE, and all of our portable sinks are made with food grade plastic. We also offer resources for caterers and on-site food service businesses on our website. Visit FoodSinksTB.com to download a FREE Health Department Compliance Bulletin or request a FREE Handwashing Compliance sign.

You can also get 10% Off on All Online Orders when you use promo code FS2017TB.

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