If you’ve ever heard of “food grade” containers or bags, you may have wondered what exactly that means. Food grade bags for food packaging, like a chocolate candy bag or coffee bag packaging, have to be made in a particular way. Here’s what you need to know about food grade bags for food packaging.
Who Decides If It Is “Food Grade?”the United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is the one who determines whether any packaging can be labeled food grade or not. When they label bags or containers as “food grade,” this simply means that they have determined it is safe to put food in that bag. There are other factors that determine what types of food can go in a particular bag. For example, if the food is wet, acidic, alcoholic, or high in fat, it will need a particular type of container.
What Does a Food Storage Container Do?There are four important things that food grade bags for food packaging should be able to do:
- Protect an item in shipping. The first and most important job of any food packaging is to protect the food as it is shipped. It must be protected from damage or breakage from all the handling it will go through.
- Protect the food from the outside environment. There are many things that could ruin the food inside the bag. Oxygen is a problem, but so are moisture, insects, light, and even extremes of heat or cold. Food grade packaging has to be able to protect the food from all these dangers.
- Withstand pressure and temperature. The bag itself needs to be able to protect the food from extreme temperatures or from pressures. Some foods will break down and create gases which need a way to be released without allowing contaminants to enter. A good example of this is coffee shop packaging. After coffee is roasted, it gives off a gas. This gas needs a way to escape from the coffee bag or the bag could eventually explode. A one-way valve on a coffee bag allows gas to escape while still protecting the coffee inside.
- Protect the food in a microbiological sense. It’s not enough to protect the food from insects or moisture. Food grade bags for food packaging must also protect the food from fungi, bacteria, viruses, and any other microorganisms.
Where Do You Get Food Grade Packaging?
It’s possible to find food grade packaging everywhere. There are many companies that sell vegetable packaging, valve-sealed bags, packaging for food grade bags, and all kinds of other food grade packaging solutions. It’s possible to find everything from pint-size glass jars to six-gallon plastic jugs. Metal cans are also a popular choice for protecting food, though it is important to make sure that metal cans are lined to protect any acidic foods from breaking down the metal and leaching it into the food itself.
Is Plastic Safe?
One of the biggest questions in recent years has been whether polycarbonate plastics make safe food grade containers. There is extensive data on the subject and these plastic containers have been studied for 50 years by both the FDA and other world governmental bodies.
These tests revealed that certain types of plastic were indeed harmful, and nearly all companies worldwide have removed all types of potentially harmful plastics from their containers. Currently, there is popular concern over Bisphenol A, or BPA. The FDA has extensively tested to what degree BPA migrates from a container into the food it protects and found that fewer than 5 ppb typically get transferred.
In everyday language, this means a person would have to ingest approximately 1,300 pounds of food that had been stored in BPA plastics every day for a lifetime to get beyond the recommended safety levels. Testing has been done not only on various types of food, but also on this type of plastic when it is microwaved, washed, or stored in a wide variety of temperatures.
Food grade bags for food packaging keep our food safe and allow us to enjoy all kinds of foods from all over the world.