Foodborne illness and spoilage are common and costly. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 1 in 6 people in the United States will get sick from contaminated food each year. In addition, the USDA estimates between 30-40% of food is wasted. Oftentimes these diseases and losses are preventable. Managing and preventing these challenges through the use of safe, sanitary food packaging is critical to preserving our environment and improving public health.
Food industry standards stipulate that packaging products used to transport and store raw ingredients, fresh edibles, and processed foods are safe for food contact. Manufacturing food contact packaging, specifically FIBCs, requires strict adherence to rigorous production standards for quality and cleanliness. Meticulous quality control testing and inspection ensures that FIBCs remain a valuable component of the world’s food supply chain.
What Are Food Grade FIBCs?
Food grade bulk bags are made with 100% virgin polypropylene and polyethylene resins and are produced in certified “clean” environments using food safe production methods. Virgin polypropylene and polyethylene are recognized by the FDA as safe for food contact packaging. Safe production standards include, but are not limited to:
Light Table Inspection
Vacuum / Air Cleaning
Proper Personnel Wardrobe
Proper Personnel Hygiene
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) Program
Food grade FIBCs are typically designed to hold between 1,000 and 4,000 pounds of dry, flowable product. Product size can range from fine powders to whole vegetables. While many bulk bags are certified for single use only, they may also be designed and approved for multiple trips under specific conditions.
What Makes an FIBC “Food Grade”?
All FIBCs are manufactured using non-toxic virgin polypropylene and polyethylene resin, derivatives of oil. The main distinguishing factor between industrial grade and food grade bulk bags is the environment in which they are produced, the method by which they are assembled and cleaned, and the quality testing undertaken before they are shipped.
The following charts offers a comparison between non-food grade and food-grade FIBCs:
FIBC manufacturers and their respective clean room facilities are subject to audit and can be certified under food safety standards such as British Retail Consortium Global Standards (BRCGS), Safe Quality Food (SQF), and American Institute of Baking (AIB). The U.S. FDA does not directly approve or certify FIBCs, nor does it govern the manufacture of such bags or liners. Its official statement is simply that 100% polypropylene resin "may be safely used as articles or components of articles intended for use in contact with food."
Third-party certifications are an important component of supply-chain safety, serving to ensure compliance with established standards. The identification and designation of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HAACP) offers an additional food safety guideline, used by the food industry to minimize potential hazards. By identifying those critical points in the process, preventive action can be taken to prevent problems from occurring.
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a non-profit founded under Belgian law with the mission of instituting a worldwide standard for food safety schemes. Although it issues no certifications or accreditation, it works closely with major food producers and retailers to create standards with global impact in the supply chain.
Food Grade FIBCs from Southern Packaging
Since its founding, FIBCA has been a respected voice in the bulk packaging industry, and continues to expand its mission and commitment to educate the public about the benefits, uses, and correct handling methods of flexible intermediate bulk containers. FIBCA maintains a valuable resource center for information related to bulk bags and food safety.
Southern Packaging is one of the largest bulk packaging suppliers in the country, delivering more than 1,100 different industrial packaging products to companies throughout the U.S. from its headquarters near Dallas, Texas. As a supportive member of FIBCA, we maintain the largest inventory of FIBCs and multi-wall paper packaging in North America.
Southern Packaging, LP is a leader in supplying food-grade FIBCs and only sources materials from manufacturers that adhere to the strictest international standards for production quality and safety. For more information on our food and pharmaceutical grade FIBCs visit https://www.southernpackaginglp.com/fibcs/food-grade-bulk-bags