The Importance of Food-Grade Plastics in Food Processing

Thermex Polymer PlasticsFood processing is a delicate operation where the safety, quality, and integrity of food products are paramount. One of the critical components ensuring these standards is the material used in contact with food. This paper delves into the significance of food-grade plastics in the food processing industry.

Food-grade plastics are polymers specifically designed to meet stringent standards for safety when in contact with food products. They are non-toxic, non-reactive, and resistant to bacteria, ensuring no harmful chemicals leach into the food.

Globally, regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have set guidelines for materials that can come into contact with food. Using food-grade plastics ensures adherence to these regulations, safeguarding manufacturers from potential legal repercussions and product recalls.

Unlike non-food-grade plastics, which can impart unwanted tastes or odors, food-grade plastics are neutral. This neutrality ensures the original taste and aroma of food products remain unaltered.

Food-grade plastics can endure various conditions in food processing, from high cooking temperatures to freezing storage conditions. Their versatility allows them to be molded into diverse shapes and sizes, catering to different food products.

These plastics are inherently resistant to bacteria and other contaminants. Their slick, non-stick surfaces and low coefficient of friction prevent bacterial adhesion and build-up, ensuring a hygienic environment for food processing.

When considering factors like transportation, durability, and versatility, food-grade plastics often present a more cost-effective solution compared to materials like glass or metal.

With the advent of biodegradable and compostable food-grade plastics, the industry is moving towards reducing its environmental footprint, aligning with global sustainability goals.

The resilience of food-grade plastics ensures reduced risk of breakage, ensuring safer handling, transportation, and reduced wastage.

The role of food-grade plastics in food processing is undeniable. They offer a combination of safety, functionality, and cost-effectiveness that few materials can match. As the food processing industry continues to evolve, the importance of these plastics will only grow, ensuring that food remains safe and of high quality from the processing plant to the consumer’s table.

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About the Author
Cody Kaufmann is Plastics Business Unit manager for Sealing Equipment Products Co., Inc. (SEPCO). He has nearly 20 years of experience in plastics manufacturing and sealing technology and has been with SEPCO for four years. Kaufmann may be reached at
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