Recently, China executed Zheng Xiaoyu, its former head of food and drugs for his inability to ensure not only the safety of its own citizens but the country’s credibility as an international supplier of such goods (remember the contaminated dog food ruckus a couple of months ago). Food safety is a #1 priority at the federal level of any country and there are laws in place that go beyond just what’s in food, but the materials food comes in contact with from holding the raw materials to displaying them in the local coffee shop. In North America, we refer to plastics approved for such purposes as FDA approved. Granted, this is an Americanized term but it works for Canada and Mexico, too.
As a general rule of thumb – and a whole lotta common sense – you don’t want food coming in contact with something that can contaminate it. Such materials would absorb and hold a contaminate, such as bacteria, or leech/transfer harmful residue such as rust. Wood is a fibrous compound that absorbs water and, if you cut chicken on it, it will absorb the juices which often contain some kind of salmonella bacteria. The only way to truly clean the board would be to steam it or boil it. How many people do you know apply the proper sterilizing techniques in their home? Not many. Plastic is an ideal product for working with foods – but not all of them. Clear acrylic and polycarbonate can be used to house raw materials and finished products but not coloured material – unless the manufacturer is using FDA approved colour dyes. Natural, virgin acetal (Delrin), polyethylenes, polypropylenes, and Teflon are FDA approved.
Acrylic Sneeze Guard
You can request a certificate of compliance from a manufacturer to ensure the material you buy is FDA approved. Teflon (450 degrees F) and high-heat UHMW (225-280 degrees F) are usually used during the baking process, often as a conveyor component, handling food as it comes out of ovens. Acetal and HDPE are often used as flights or arms pushing and directing food as it moves down the conveyor; and also make excellent timing screws too.
Polyethylene Timing Screw // Food Guide
HDPE is the most common material used for cutting board, and there is a grade specific to the task that has a pebbly finish which helps keep the meat on the table if you will. Some manufacturers provide coloured cutting boards: red-meat, yellow-chicken, green-vegetables, blue-fish.
Coloured Cutting Boards
These are particulary useful in restaurants where there are multiple chefs chopping up multiple products with multiple knives slicing and dicing – you don’t want the chicken to come in contact with the fresh vegetables, now, do you?
Cutting board comes in 4×8′ and 4×10′ sheets and can be custom cut to just about any shape or size and can be customized with a logo routered into the top – a great gift idea. This material can’t be glued but it can be mechanically fastened or siliconed down as a table or counter top.
Warehoused Plastic Sales carries complete lines of food grade plastics and can assist you in putting together a customized solution for processing or displaying your food products – we aren’t fabricators per se, but we sure know a lot of them that can help you out.