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.