Food storage is a top priority for preppers however, it is necessary to use the appropriate food storage containers for the job so as not to ruin your stockpile.
Even none-preppers may stockpile for the long-term but unless they do their research they seem to think that they can just buy bags of rice and store them away in those bags. The thing is, those bags are not made for long-term storage, in fact, hardly any of the food you buy comes in the appropriate packaging for long-term storage.
For food items such as wheat, rice, oats and other grains, it is recommended that you transfer them over to plastic buckets before storing them away but how do you know whether the plastic is food grade (Not all plastic is the same)? Well let’s take a look…
Plastic has become incredibly popular due to low price, durability and convenience but you need to realize that plastic releases many poisonous gases, which can and will enter our body if we eat or drink from these containers. It has been shown that these toxins can cause serious diseases such as cancer.
Also, just because a food item comes in plastic packaging, does not mean that that container is food grade.
The Numbers on Plastic Containers
The SPI (Society of Plastic Industry) introduced some codes to us that can better help us to understand the plastic at hand. This becomes incredibly useful when it comes to recycling. They are known as the plastic ID or plastic recycling code. You will have see these codes many times and consist of 3 arrows in a triangular formation with a number in the center. It is this number that can give us the required information about the plastic such as the chemical that was used in manufacturing, the heat resistance, leaching of chemicals, biodegradability and for what purpose it is most suitable.
See the image below for a quick look at how the codes look.
Plastic Code – 1 (PET/PETE)
If you see the number 1 on your plastic containers, it has been made from Polyethylene Terephthalate. This means that it is made for single-use only.
Plastic Code – 2 (HDPE)
Plastic code 2 means that the container is made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). The chance for leaching of chemicals is less for this category.
Plastic Code – 3 (PVC)
If you see the number 3 on your plastic containers, it has been made of Poly Vinyl Chloride and is usually used for plumbing purposes and are not recommended for cooking and storing food items.
Plastic Code – 4 (LDPE)
Plastic code 4 is made from Low Density Polyethylene and is mainly used for making paper milk & juice cartons, hot & cold beverage cups, bread & frozen food covers etc. LDPE is one of the safest plastics.
Plastic Code – 5 (PP)
If you see the number 5 on your plastic containers, it has been made of Polypropylene. It is safe to use as food containers and can be reused.
Plastic Code – 6 (PS)
Plastic code 6 is made from Polystyrene and is commonly known as Styrofoam. It is mainly used in making disposable cups and plates, CD cases, egg cartons etc. This plastic seems to produce some poisonous gases, especially, when heated.
Plastic Code – 7 (Others)
The number 7 is used for all other plastics such as acrylic, Poly carbonate and Co polyester. This is commonly used for making DVDs, Sunglasses, Certain food containers and bottles, Computer cases etc.
If you use plastic containers for storing your food, only use those containers that clearly show the codes 2,4 and 5. They are food grade plastics. Code 1 plastic is also safe to use but only for single-use.