Is it Safe to Take out Hot Food Cartons and Paper Bowls? Pay Attention to 2 Key Points and Ensure Food Safety

June 21,2022

When taking out hot food, some people would ask their bosses not to use plastic bags, but instead to use paper boxes or bowls, hoping to reduce the contact with plasticizers. But is it really safe to do so?


Paper Bowls


Disposable paper disposable tableware, including paper cups for drinks, as well as lunch boxes, paper bowls and paper trays with snacks, are mostly made of composite materials - paper is the main material. However, in order to prevent water and reduce air penetration, and achieve the effect of food preservation, most tableware manufacturers apply a thin layer of plastic film on the inner surface of the carton, the so-called "food contact surface", which we call "plastic film".


Most of the coating materials used by the industry are mostly plastic, among which PE is the most common. PE can also be divided into 2 high density polyethylene (HDPE) with high heat resistance temperature, about 90-110 ℃; What is worse is No. 4 low density polyethylene (LDPE) with low heat resistance temperature of about 70-90 ℃; Some will also be mixed with some No. 5 polypropylene (PP) with high heat-resistant temperature, which can be as high as 90-140 ℃.


Seeing this, one can not help worrying that these paper tableware containing plastic film will have the suspicion of plasticizer dissolving out? This is a food packaging technology widely used all over the world. It has the advantages of waterproof and air penetration prevention.


As long as you pay attention to the following two points, you can safely use it:


  1. pay attention to the proportion of plastic materials


Suppose you take a box of fried noodles with you. It's safe to pack them directly in cartons. However, if there is more soup, some snack makers will take them in plastic bags to prevent the soup from flowing out, and then put them into paper bowls and cartons. In this way, the risk of exposure to plasticizers increases.


Because the composition of plastic bags is 100% plastic monomer, especially PVC plastic bags, with the lowest heat-resistant temperature, only 60 ℃; In addition, PVC also contains chlorine. After contact with hot food, the release of toxic component "chlorine" will also increase. As for paper tableware, the proportion of paper is about 99%, and the proportion of plastic may be only 1%. In terms of exposure risk, there is a long gap between the two.


  1. pay attention to food temperature


Since most of the plastic film of paper tableware is made of PP or PE, which has the characteristics of acid resistance, alkali resistance and oil resistance, it is reasonable and safe to load common cooked food, such as fried rice, fried noodles, French fries, pizza, etc. However, it should be noted that, compared with solids, the surface temperature of food liquids is higher than expected. In particular, newly cooked noodle soup or small hot pot may reach 100 ℃, which is not ordinary cooked food, but "hot food", which may exceed the heat-resistant temperature of coating materials.


The heat-resistant temperature is an indicator of physical phenomena, which means that when the temperature is exceeded, the plastic will begin to produce abnormal phenomena; The higher the temperature, the greater the degree of plastic damage. Therefore, when paper tableware is used to hold "hot food", the risk of releasing plasticized monomer or plasticizer will increase.


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