Materials that will come into direct contact with food must be durable, non-reactive, and inert. For consumer safety, it is vital that these plastics must be able to withstand factors such as chemical exposure, extreme temperatures, and UV radiation without breaking down. To be considered food-grade, plastic injection molding materials must adhere to strict regulations.
Food-Grade Material Options and Their Applications
There are numerous food-grade material options used in plastic injection molding, as well as other plastic fabrication methods used to create food containers and packaging. Each type of plastic features its own unique properties.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
LDPE is the most flexible polyethylene option. It is odorless and non-toxic, with a high resistance to moisture. Additionally, LDPE resists most chemicals, features high durability, can withstand heavy impacts, and tolerates all weather types. This material is translucent and typically easy to process.
LDPE is commonly used for squeezable condiment bottles, container lids, and coatings for beverage cups or paper cartons. More broadly, LDPE is also popular for shrink-wrap or plastic bags used for bread or produce.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
HDPE is more rigid, stiffer, and more brittle than LDPE. It is the most common household plastic, due in large part to its chemical and moisture resistance capabilities. HDPE is highly durable and available in translucent (non-pigmented) and opaque (pigmented) options. This stiffer material is frequently used for beverage containers, cereal box liners, and plastic bags.
Ideal for applications that require particularly tough materials, polycarbonate (PC) is strong and durable. PC plastics are commonly selected for creating reusable water bottles, baby bottles, and water-cooler bottles.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
PET is a highly stable, semi-rigid plastic commonly used for fabricating packaging that needs to retain its shape under pressure. This material resists corrosion, repels microorganisms, and does not degrade when it comes in contact with food. Certain types of PET are also oven-safe and microwavable. PET is often used for plastic beverage bottles, as well as jars for pickles or peanut butter. Plastic oven-safe film and microwavable food trays are also typically made from PET.
PP is non-toxic, resistant to chemicals, has high toughness, and offers excellent elasticity and fatigue resistance. This material also maintains its properties in high and low temperatures, making it very versatile. PP is a popular choice for takeout containers, squeezable syrup bottles, and butter and margarine containers.
Often used for processed food boxes or snack boxes, PS will maintain its core properties when exposed to cold temperatures. This plastic has a low melting point and is typically clear and hard. Often used for rigid cutlery, cups, bowls, and other foodservice items, PS is also ideal for rigid food containers for items such as yogurt.
Food Grade Material Regulations and Certifications
As these materials will come into contact with consumable products, regulatory bodies have put guidelines and requirements in place to ensure customer safety. At The Rodon Group, we comply with all applicable regulations, with a particular focus on Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). In this way, we continually identify and eradicate potential hazards, thus minimizing the risk of food-borne illnesses and improving customer confidence.
The main requirements that we focus on include:
- BPA-free materials
- FDA certification
- FMA-safe regulations
- HACCP compliance
- Non-toxic guidelines
Rodon Plastic Injection Molding for the Food & Beverage Industry
Choosing the appropriate material for your food or beverage application helps ensure customer safety and satisfaction. At The Rodon Group, our fully automated facility enables us to efficiently produce high-volume runs without sacrificing quality.
We are often chosen by top food and beverage providers to manufacture food-grade plastic injection molded parts. We’ve done work on the following products for food packaging and processing applications: