Importance of Ensuring an IBC Tote is Food-Grade
An intermediate bulk container (IBC) tote is a popular storage solution for a wide range of products, including liquids, powders, and granules. However, not all IBC totes are created equal, and it is important to ensure that the tote you are using for food products is food-grade. They can come in a wide variety of sizes with some of the more common being 250-gallon and 330-gallon totes. In this article, we will discuss three ways to tell if an IBC tote is food-grade and the differences between regular totes and food-grade IBC totes.
How to Tell if IBC Tote is Food Grade?
A food-grade IBC tote is a container that has been manufactured specifically for the storage and transport of food products. These totes are made from materials that are safe for human consumption and meet specific standards set by regulatory bodies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Europe are two examples of regulatory bodies that set standards for food-grade IBC totes.
Materials of the IBC Tote
The materials used in the manufacture of an IBC tote can tell you whether the tote is food-grade or not. The most common materials used in the manufacture of IBC totes are plastic, steel, and composite materials. However, not all plastics, steel, and composite materials are food-grade.
Food-grade plastics are made from materials that are safe for food contact. These materials do not release harmful chemicals or toxins into the food product, even when exposed to high temperatures. Some common food-grade plastics include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polypropylene (PP).
Food-grade steel IBC totes are typically made from stainless steel. Stainless steel tanks are a durable material that is easy to clean and sanitize, making them ideal for use in the food industry.
Composite IBC totes are made from a combination of materials, including plastics, steel, and other materials. Not all composite IBC totes are food grade, so it is important to check the materials used in manufacturing.
IBC Tote Labels and Certifications
One way to determine if an IBC tote is food grade is to check the label. Food-grade totes will have a label that clearly states that they are intended for use with food products. The label should also include the manufacturer's name, address, and contact information.
Another way to verify that an IBC tote is food grade is to look for industry certifications. There are several industry certifications that indicate a tote is food grade. The most common certification is the NSF International certification, which verifies that the tote meets specific standards for food contact.
|HDPE||High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a durable plastic that is resistant to impact and chemicals. It is commonly used for food packaging and storage containers. HDPE is food grade and safe for use with food products.|
|LDPE||Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is a lightweight plastic that is used for food packaging and storage bags. It is food grade and safe for use with food products.|
|PP||Polypropylene (PP) is a versatile plastic that is used for food packaging and storage containers. It is food grade and safe for use with food products.|
|PET||Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a clear, lightweight plastic that is commonly used for food and beverage packaging. It is food grade and safe for use with food products.|
|PVC||Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a strong, durable plastic that is used for a wide range of products, including food packaging and storage containers. However, PVC is not food grade and should not be used with food products.|
Note: While PVC is not food grade and should not be used with food products, it is sometimes used for non-food applications in IBC totes. If an IBC tote is made from PVC, it should not be used for food storage or transport.
Previous Contents of the IBC Tote
It is important to know what was previously stored in the IBC tote before using it for food products. If the previous contents of the tote were non-food items or toxic chemicals, there is a risk of contamination.
To determine the previous contents of an IBC tote, check the label or markings on the tote. If the tote is labeled with the previous contents, it should not be used for food storage. If the tote is not labeled, it is best to assume that it was not used for food storage.
Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures
Even if the IBC tote was previously used for food storage, it is important to clean and sanitize the tote before using it for new food products. Proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures will remove any residual materials that could contaminate the new product.
Cleaning and sanitizing procedures vary depending on the type of IBC tote and the previous contents. Some common cleaning and sanitizing procedures include rinsing with hot water, using a detergent solution, and disinfecting with a food-grade sanitizer.
Smell and Taste of the IBC Tote
The smell and taste of an IBC tote can also indicate whether it is food grade or not. If the tote has a strong odor or taste, it may suggest that it was previously used to store non-food items. This could also be a sign that the tote was not properly cleaned and sanitized before being used for food storage.
To determine the smell and taste of an IBC tote, fill it with hot water and allow it to sit for a few hours. After draining the water, smell and taste the water to see if there is any residual odor or taste.
Storage and Handling of the IBC Tote
Proper storage and handling of a food-grade IBC tote are essential to maintaining its integrity and preventing contamination. Store the tote in a clean, dry location away from any potential sources of contamination.
When handling the tote, use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles, to prevent any accidental spills or exposure to the contents. Avoid dragging the tote or subjecting it to any rough handling that could damage the tote or cause a spill.
Reusing an IBC Tote
Reusing an IBC tote can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. However, it is important to follow proper procedures to ensure that the tote is safe for reuse.
Before reusing an IBC tote, inspect it for any damage or signs of wear and tear. Make sure the tote is clean and free from any residual materials. If necessary, clean and sanitize the tote before reuse. Especially if these plastic containers were previously used for hazardous materials, you will likely not be able to reuse them for storing food-grade materials.
Benefits of Using a Food Grade IBC Tote
Using a food-grade IBC tote offers several benefits over traditional storage and transport methods. These totes are specifically designed for the safe storage and transport of food, ensuring that the product remains safe for consumption.
Food-grade IBCs are also cost-effective and eco-friendly. They can be reused multiple times, reducing the need for single-use containers. Additionally, many food-grade containers are made from recyclable materials, further reducing their environmental impact. By following the standards listed in this article, you can know how to tell if IBC tote is food-grade.
In conclusion, ensuring that an IBC tote is food grade is essential to maintaining the safety and integrity required to store food. Checking the materials used in the manufacture of the tote, verifying the label and certifications, inspecting the tote for previous contents, following proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures, and storing and handling the tote correctly are all important steps in ensuring that the tote is food grade. By using food-grade intermediate bulk containers, you can be confident that your food products are safe for consumption and that you are doing your part to reduce waste and protect the environment.
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