Foodservice Packaging and… Black Plastics

Foodservice packaging is made from a wide variety of materials. These products go through rigorous testing to ensure that they meet stringent food packaging regulations, ensuring the safe delivery of foodservice items to consumers.

However, the safety of foodservice packaging made from black plastics has been called into question recently, with claims being made that recycled plastic from electronic parts are being added to plastics used to manufacture items like take-out containers and cutlery, leading to the presence of hazardous chemicals.

The truth is…

  • The Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada, which regulate materials that come into contact with food in the U.S. and Canada respectively, do not allow non-food-grade plastics, whether from virgin or recycled sources, to be used when manufacturing foodservice packaging.
  • While bromine/antimony flame retardants may be used in plastics associated with electronics, they are not used in the resins produced to manufacture foodservice packaging in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Additionally, mercury, lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium (also known as “CONEG 4”) may not be used in foodservice packaging in the U.S. and Canada.
  • The mere presence of chemicals deemed hazardous does not mean a true health risk exists. Ambient or unintentional additions of chemicals could possibly occur, but these exist at trace or extremely low levels, far below the rigorous testing standards set out by international regulatory agencies.
  • Plastics from electronic waste may be recycled, but these materials are sold to very limited, very specific markets (often outside North America). These markets do not include food-grade plastics.

Consumers can be assured that black plastics used to make foodservice packaging in the U.S. and Canada has been deemed safe for use by the appropriate regulatory agencies… and that means plastics from electronic waste was not used to manufacture it.

For more detailed information on recycling and plastics used in food-contact applications, please check out these resources:

From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

From Health Canada:

Published September 2018

FPI Rigidity Tester Operating Procedure

FPI Rigidity Tester

FPI Rigidity Tester

In 2007, FPI announced that production and shipment had begun for the Institute’s modernized rigidity tester used by manufacturers for testing rigidity (resistance to bending and buckling) of single-use foodservice packaging products.
The 2007 model of the tester is an electrified, digitized, and ergonomically-enhanced version of the Institute’s original rigidity tester developed for industry use 20 years ago. It has been used by the industry to determine the rigidity of paper and plastic plates, platters, bowls and trays used in foodservice venues.
FPI’s Foodservice Packaging Standards Council spent nearly a year developing its requirements for a new rigidity tester, and then monitored ten months of beta testing of the new unit at Georgia-Pacific Corporation’s DIXIE laboratory facility in Lehigh Valley, Pa. In addition to the testing device, the Council oversaw development of a new Operating Procedure for the tester.
The new device is being manufactured by Peerless Machine & Tool Corporation of Marion, Ind. Manufacturers and laboratories seeking to purchase the 2007 model of the rigidity tester may contact FPI for information.
If your company already has the updated rigidity tester but has questions or problems with the calibration, please contact Peerless Machine & Tool Corporation directly at (765) 662-2586.

Guidance Document for Qualifying Ovenable Packaging

Leak Test: Hot Cups Poly-Coated

Capacity of Cups and Containers Standard