White buckets are commonly used throughout the food industry as a way to store and transport food products. White Buckets are also seen in the local home improvement store to house paint. If you removed the labels and set them side by side, would you know the difference? This article will be part of a series that will help readers understand more about safe food storage practices.
Food grade packaging is a term for anything container or material that is designated safe by not transferring any toxic substances to the food it houses or comes in contact with. If there is any uncertainty to whether or not the container is food grade material, contacting the manufacturer is the best way to know for sure. As in the above example, a white bucket is very commonplace and can be made of toxic materials if the consumer is unaware of what to look for. If the manufacturer is contacted, the following question should be asked if the container is suitable for:
- Liquids or dry material
- Acidic foods
- Alkaline contents
Most people assume that if a white plastic 5 gallon bucket has a triangle with the number 2 in the center, that this represents that the container is safe for foods. Unfortunately, this may not always be true as the triangle and number 2 refers to the type of plastic used for recycling purposes. Most are made to contain food grade material, but this identification is used for a different purpose.
Some recyclable buckets have dye added for coloring the plastic, which will disqualify the container for food storage by the FDA, if the dye causes safety issues when in contact with food. If the origin of the bucket you have is unknown, you want to be extra careful. Even if the container was originally manufactured for food storage use, there could have been foreign materials stored in them other than food. If the contaminate penetrated the porous material in the plastic walls, this could eventually leach back into the food you are storing causing unwanted safety issues.
Another way to help ensure the white buckets you are using are safe is to get them from a known source, like a bakery, restaurant or cafeteria. Since they received the food in this way it is safe to assume that the ones they are ready to discard are the same.
In conclusion, if you intend to use a White Bucket for storing your food over the winter or anytime for that matter, it is important to know the potential safety issues to protect yourself from contamination issues. Following these simple guidelines will help you to keep your family safe while enjoying foods you have stored for a rainy day.