The popularity of ready-made or semi-finished frozen products is high today since people do not have a lot of time to spend in a kitchen cooking food from scratch. Instead, they can heat a pre-made frozen meal in a microwave and get a delicious aroma dinner within a few minutes. Moreover, freezing products allows for minimizing food waste, reducing an environmental impact, and saving money.
Today, it’s possible to freeze any type of product. Modern people freeze not only meat, vegetables, and fruits; they manage to keep dough, cake layers, greenery, etc. frozen. Thus, freezing comes as a convenient way to store products over a long period. Temperature reduction allows for prolonging food shelf life, ensuring freshness, and preserving aroma and taste properties.
However, when storing frozen food, it’s important to comply with storage requirements and choose proper containers wisely. The thing is that some materials tend to emit poisonous chemicals under the influence of low temperatures. Besides, reducing the temperature can lead to the destruction of chemical chains, as a result of which materials can lose their physical properties, not just losing the ability to preserve food quality, but also emitting harmful chemicals. This is why consumers should approach the choice of proper storage containers for freezers thoroughly.
Plastic containers are commonly used to store frozen products in freezers. They are preferable due to their physical properties, high resistance to temperature changes, shape rigidity, and convenience of use. However, not all plastic containers are safe. In the article, we’re going to focus on the question “what plastics are safe to freeze food in” and go deep into the topic to find out all the pitfalls.
FDA-Approved Plastic Containers for Frozen Food Storage
Food-grade plastic is subject to strict compliance with industry regulations. Such boxes and bags cannot contain chemical additives, toxic dyes, or other harmful components. An authorized body – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – is entitled to test and determine the result of the interaction of different packaging materials with food. The body is responsible for the supervision of compliance with industry-set regulations. According to this organization, the following types of plastic containers are recognized to be safe and allowed to be used for food storage:
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE plastic). This material stands as one of the most popular options for containers. Its chemical and physical properties determine the high popularity of frozen food storage. The material keeps the shape perfectly, which allows for the creation of rigid containers for liquid and dry products. High resistance to temperature extremes helps pack food for further freezing. The material does not come in contact with food, meaning that it’s 100% safe for product storage. The material is marked as 2 in the plastic tingle coding.
- Low-density polyethylene (LDPE plastic). This option is another popular plastic packaging for frozen food. The material is used to pack products in durable bags since it features high flexibility. Translucent bags that do not let smells come through are popular for packing berries, vegetables, corn, etc. LDPE plastic features high tear resistance and excellent physical strength, which is why it’s used for long-term storage. It doesn’t emit harmful substances under low temperatures. The material has designation 4 on the triangle code.
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE). PET plastic is beneficial due to its high odor-resistance properties; the material prevents food from exchanging aromas and preserves products from losing their strong smell during storage. In addition, it has high moisture and gas barrier properties, protecting food from undesirable contact with environmental factors. The material has number 1 on the recycling triangle chart.
- Food-grade polypropylene (PP). The material features high rigidity and perfect shape-keeping. Yet, it can be flexible as well. Perfect chemical characteristics and high resistance to temperature falls make it popular for the production of frozen food containers. It possesses all the required qualities, such as smell, moisture, and oxygen barriers. PP plastic was ranged 5 on the recycling triangle diagram.
- Polycarbonate (PC). This type of plastic possesses stronger physical characteristics than glass. However, it does not emit harmful chemicals, is highly resistant to external impacts, and is not reactive, which is why the FDA listed it among food-grade packaging materials, assigning number 7 of the resin identification code.
- Acrylic. This material comes as a worthy replacement for glass containers for frozen products. They keep shape perfectly and do not let food contact with the environment, possessing high barrier properties. But, note that it’s not allowed to heat such containers in microwaves since they have poor resistance to heating.
- Nylon. The material is widely applied for the manufacturing of containers stored under low temperatures. It’s completely safe and non-toxic since it doesn’t leach any chemical into food upon contact. It doesn’t contain BPA, which makes the material appropriate for food-grade container production. Its high barrier properties are excellent for storing all sorts of frozen products.
Quite frequently, recycled bioplastics are used to produce frozen food packages. It’s allowed by the FDA if recycled materials pass safety tests and comply with related guidelines.
If you need high-quality containers for your products, you need to contact a frozen food packaging company. Uniflex comes as a trusted certified manufacturer of customizable wrappers for all sorts of products. Experienced managers help find the best solutions for clients’ products to preserve their quality and freshness. Containers are custom-made and durable.
Plastic Bottles for Safe Storage of Frozen Liquids
When talking about bottles from food-grade plastics, note that materials marked with 2, 4, and 5 codes are safe and can be used multiple times. Yet, it’s allowed to use plastics marked with code number 1 only once since it becomes potentially dangerous when re-used. The following codes are forbidden for usage for freezing food:
- code number 6 (PP) – tends to evaporate poisonous gases when heated;
- codes number 3 and 7 – leak toxic chemicals into products.
While some types of plastics are good and safe, there are materials that must be completely removed from the food industry. Plastics to avoid for food storage include:
- Polystyrene (PS);
- BPA (Bisphenol A).
After all, note that plastic packaging for frozen is rather popular, with codes number 2, 4, and 5 being fully safe. Still, it’s advisable to turn to other alternatives since plastic containers cause contamination and have a negative impact on the environment. Glass, silicon, or ceramic containers come as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic ones. They do not come in contact with the content and possess excellent barrier properties. In addition, such containers are perfectly reusable; it’s enough to disinfect and sanitize them properly for multiple uses.
Today, a great share of products are stored in a frozen form since it’s convenient and allows for reducing food waste. Although consumers try to replace plastic containers with green alternatives, the first stays the most popular packaging option for frozen products. Uniflex offers its services and is ready to manufacture the needed type of wrapper. The company deals with all sorts of plastics and provides high-quality custom solutions. Contact managers to get qualified consultation and assistance in producing appropriate packaging for frozen food.