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Check your containers are food-safe this Christmas

Published: 24th December 2014

Tis the season for eating and drinking (in large amounts). Whether it’s a batch of mince pies or a cocktail bucket, all this festive joy needs preparing and storing, as well as imbigin.

This is of course where plastic containers have a starring role and so its vital to ensure that they are safe to use. If you bought through our online shop then give yourself a pat on back and carry on safe in the knowledge all H&O buckets and containers are food grade. But if you didn’t, here’s our handy food grade guide to iron out any uncertainties about what you’re using.

We have comprehensive regulations in the UK, for materials that are manufactured for use with foodstuffs. This is to remove the possibility of any inherent chemicals interfering with food stored in or eaten/drunk from the container. For instance, we wouldn’t recommend storing your potatoes in a former paint bucket!

check your festive food containers The BuyBuckets food grade container guide


1. The first port of call is to look at the underneath of the plastic bucket / container in question. There should be a recycling number and some arrows and there should also be some numbers. One, four, and five indicate that it is indeed food grade standard and manufactured from the materials PETE, LDPE and polypropylene (PP) however, the ideal plastic for use with food is high-density polyethylene (HDPE) - number two.  There is also bio-plastic – an organic, plant-based compound – which also is OK for storing food.

2. Moving to the sides of the container, you may notice some symbols around the sides of the container. These indicate the food grade quality of the container as well its utility i.e. its potential cooking and storage uses and the symbols used should be self-explanatory. If you see a cup and a fork, rest assured that the plastic is indeed food grade. A ‘radiating waves’ symbol indicates the container is microwave-safe, and a snowflake implies that the container (with food in) can be left in the freezer. If you notice a symbol showing dishes in water that will mean its OK to stick the used and dirty container into a dishwasher.

3. Lastly, take care if you’re thinking of re-using any buckets or containers that have an unknown or debatable history. The symbols we’ve discussed refer to new containers and therefore will be meaningless if the container has since been used for mixing chemicals, or storing any toxic substances.

Hopefully this quick guide will be of some help to you when choosing or using plastic buckets and containers. The regulations may seem a bit complex but they are in place to put people at ease. Mind you, if you purchase a food grade container from Buybuckets, you needn’t worry at all, as they are manufactured specifically for food usage.

And a  very Merry Christmas from H&O Plastics and the Buybuckets team!

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