Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Confusion between food grade and food safe plastic drums

Resently I was asked the Question, "Are the plastic drums, that I sell, food grade?"  I told him, "no, they are not."  And even though they are not "food grade" we have been using them in the production of our wooden rain barrels for over 10 years with great success.  For some reason, people seem to think that if the drum contained food, the drum is food grade and if it contained a chemical (non-toxic or otherwise) then it is not ok for it to be used for storing water . Not true.

Part of the confusion is that both types of drums are made from HDPE (high density polyethylene) a material that is designated "food safe" by the FDA (food and drug administration).  Food safe means that HDPE can come in contact with food and water and be safe for you to consume. Food safe HDPE is ok for a variety of uses such as: cutting boards for food preparation, playground equipment, barrels for rain water collection, and yes even for chemical containers. The versatility of polyethylene has made it one of the worlds most popular plastics.

Food grade plastic, on the other hand, is deemed for the use of long term food packaging, such as for: emergency prepardness and does not contain any dyes or harmful chemicals the would leach into the food and water. Have you ever wondered why "food grade buckets" that are sold in stores, are always white?  Also if it does not say "food grade" on the container or is not stated by the manufacturer, then it is not food grade!

All the recycled drums that are offered by the Rainbarrel Man Co. are designated food safe by the FDA and have not contained any toxic or harmful chemicals.  They have also been pressure washed and steam cleaned for further sterilization.

If anyone has any questions regarding this subject please dont hesitate to ask. I will do my best in answering all your questions.  RBM

4 comments:

  1. Is there marks on the 55 gallon barrels for "Food Grade" and for "Food Safe Plastic" drums?

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    1. Not that I'm aware of. Although, the white dye that is used in the manufacture of white containers (buckets, barrels, drums) is Titanium Dioxide which is used in sunscreen products and many foods as well, because it is so safe. So if you are looking for a container to store food or potable water in for a long period of time, to use one that is white. The only down side to using a white barrel is the fact that it allows more light in, which promotes Algae growth. Painting it or storing it indoors would help with that.

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  2. Can a non-food grade 55 gallon plastic drum that was used to store corrosive chemical or other chemical be cut in half and be used as a planter for fruit plants

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    1. That depends on the chemical that was stored in the drum. If you know the name of the chemical, then just go online and type in "Materal Safety Data Sheet" (MSDS) for more information. That's what we do before excepting any drums for resale. Also if the chemical is water soluble and/or biodegradable that would be a plus. There's a fine line between "chemical" and the "food" you eat. Take for instance: White Vinegar. It's real chemical name is: Acetic Acid, in which we use to take plating off of steel at our shop. Now I personally used a half drum that had a "chemical" at one time in it, to temporarily plant a fig tree in. It was in it for over a year before we replanted it into the ground. This summer we picked it's first batch of figs...... and boy did they taste great.

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