ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Food and Cooking»
  • Food Safety

How to Choose Safe Plastic Food Containers.

Updated on August 29, 2013

Plastic has become a very close material to our life. We never leave plastic uses in our daily activities and one of the most common practices is using plastic as our food and drink containers.

Plastic has been produced in several types, from different materials, and intended for different purposes and uses. Having practical knowledge about symbols and materials of plastic is important for us when we decide to use plastic.

Types of Plastic.

Types of plastic are categorized by materials consisting them. Plastic which are safe for food container should be free from dangerous substances like Bisphenol-A or commonly abbreviated BPA, Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC. BPA is used in plastic production to make it clear and hard while PVC is often used together with phthalates to make flexible plastic. The problem arises when those harmful substances leach out of the plastic container and contaminate food or water it contains. It happens when we use the container for hot food/water, or when the container is scratched or broken.

We can practically identify types of plastics based on their symbols and numbers inside the triangle which are usually found at the bottom of a plastic container. Those symbols are as follows:


1. PETE or PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)is usually used in water and soft drink, cooking oil, mouthwash bottles and it is only for single use only. Never use it for hot water container.


2. HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) plastic is usually used for milk jugs, cleaning solution containers, and garbage bags, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners. This kind of plastic is also intended for single use only.


3. V or PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) plastic is normally used for wrapping (cling wrap), shampoo bottles, window cleaner and detergent bottles, cooking oil bottles and many other containers. Because PVC is tough and weather resistant it is also widely used for piping,

PVC may release dioxins which is harmful to health when heated, so never burn this plastic.


4. LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) is used for food containers such as bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpet and soft /flexible bottles. Plastic no. 4 has strong flexibility and can be safely recycled or reused.

5. PP (Polypropylene) is the most suitable material for food container and baby bottles. Due to its high melting point, this plastic is used for yoghurt, syrup, ketchup containers, either for cold or hot foods.

6. PS (Polystyrene) is used in disposable plates, soft styrofoam cups and food boxes and is commonly used when we buy coffee and food at take-away restaurants. This plastic is also used for trays, foam packaging, CD cases, ice buckets, paints, egg cartons, building insulation.

Polystyrene can release toxin when it's heated so we must be extremely careful when we use it for hot food and drink containers.

7. Other. Plastics which do not belong to one of those six cathegorises are grouped under no .7 (other). It is mostly used for galon-sized water bottles, sunglasses, ipod, DVD cases, Plastic of this type contains polycarbonate which release Bisphenol A when contacts with hot materials including hot foods and water. According to some studies, bisphenol A is responsible for cancer, hormone disruption, and children behavior.

Which Plastic mustn't be used for food containers ?

Based on description above, plastics no. 3 (PVC), 6 (PS), and 7 (Other) must be avoided to be used for food and drink containers because they contain dangerous substances like chlorine, styrene, and bisphenol A which are harmful to our health.

Plastics no 1 and 2 are possible to be used for food and drink containers as long as they are used only once.

Never use this recycled plastic for food wrapping.
Never use this recycled plastic for food wrapping. | Source

Which plastics are safe ?

Although using glass container is more recommended, but when we have no choice which plastic food containers should be chosen ?

Polypropylene or often marked with PP (number 4), and Low density polyethylene or LDPE (number 5) are the best choices since they don't contain BPA nor PVC. Containers no 4 and 5 can be used repeatedly too.

Some tips in dealing with plastic.

  • Don't heat or expose plastic container to extreme heat, even if the container indicates microwave or oven safe. The food should be cooled to room temperature before storing it in plastic container.
  • Don't burn rubbish of old or broken plastic containers since it will release dangerous materials like cadmium and toxic smoke containing carbon monoxide, dioxins, benzene, furans etc.
  • Don't reuse plastic with numbers 1,2,and 3. Plastic containers (including bottles) with those numbers are usually used for bottled drinking water, bottled juice and other soft drinks and are designed for single-use only.
  • Avoid using plastic numbers 6 and 7 as food containers. Plastic no. 6 uses polystyrene and mostly used to make styrofoam. Accumulation of styrene in the body may cause serious health problems.
  • Avoid using plastic container which has no number and symbol. It's very likely that it belongs to non food grade container.
  • Change your plastic containers with new ones when they have changed in colors, chipped, scratched, or broken .
  • Don't give babies plastic teeters and toys.
  • use natural fiber stuffing, clothing, bedding and furniture.
  • Avoid PVC and Styrene products. Make sure that plastic wrap you use is made of LDPE based material since there are still plastic wraps which use plasticizers made of PVC.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

      @Vinaya Ghimire:

      Thank you for reading. I'm glad that you find something useful in this hub.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I had always wanted to know about safe plastic containers. Thanks for providing all the information.

    • profile image 5 years ago

      nice post

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi peachpurple,

      I'm glad that you find this hub useful. Thank you for reading and giving comments.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks for your detail info about the plastic containers. Now I understand the triangle logo with numbers and characteristic. Will bookmark this page for all my members. Good hub


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)