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Food packaging

If you're a food business, it's important to know what types of packaging are safe to use with your food products.

What are the requirements?

Under Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, food businesses must:

  • only use packaging material that is fit for its intended purpose
  • only use material that is not likely to cause food contamination
  • ensure there is no likelihood that the food may become contaminated during the packaging process.

What are the risks?

Packaging can potentially make food unsafe or unsuitable, for example if:

  • something contaminates food during the packaging process
  • harmful microorganisms get into food from dirty or damaged packaging
  • parts of the packaging break off into food (e.g. glass or plastic fragments)
  • chemicals leach from packaging into food.

Chemicals in food packaging

Chemicals can leach from some food packaging under certain conditions. Things that can affect leaching into food include:

  • whether the packaging has direct or indirect contact with food
  • type of food (e.g. some packaging is unsuitable for oily or acidic foods)
  • storage conditions (e.g. time, temperature, humidity)
  • whether the food will be microwaved or heated in the packaging
  • cleaning and sanitising the packaging for reuse
  • use of recycled materials for packaging.

Chemicals in food packaging has further information.

Reduce your risk

Choose the right packaging:

  • only use clean, undamaged, food-safe packaging
  • buy from a reputable source
  • know the composition of your food and check the packaging is suitable (ask the supplier or manufacturer for assurance or certification that the material is food-safe)
  • check manufacturer's instructions or symbols to confirm the packaging can take the conditions it will be exposed to, such as freezing, microwaving, or use in dishwashers

Use packaging correctly:

  • handle with good hygienic practices
  • store in a secure and clean place
  • consider how long and where food will be stored in the packaging and check it will stay safe under those conditions
  • use appropriate cleaning and sanitising methods
  • only reuse packaging or other materials if safe for food (e.g. don't repeatedly use packaging designed for single use)
  • consider using a food-safe inner liner if there's a risk of chemicals leaching into food.

More information


Page last updated 6 December 2023