Reusing those sour cream, cottage cheese and mayo packaging containers is standard practice at restaurants as well as at home, but there’s a list of reasons why you might want to reconsider reusing these. You may be saving money and doing a good thing for the environment by keeping them out of our landfills– but the benefits are not worth it once you understand how this puts your food at risk.
WHEN GOING GREEN GETS RISKY
Food packaging and containers have a prime function—to protect food during distribution until it reaches the receiving dock. Packaging materials are designed for one time use. They are designed to tolerate the type of food (acid, alcohol, or fat) that will be contained in them. No further testing or safety studies have been done for other types of food or for reuse of that container. For example, it would not be recommended to store diced tomatoes in a packaging container in which yogurt was shipped; that container is not designed to withstand the high acidity found in tomatoes.
The improper reuse of food packaging can also be a threat to health in many ways. Here are five examples just to name a few:
- HIGH HEAT – These containers will not tolerate high heat from commercial dishwashers and will deteriorate and break easily. Particles from the brittle plastic can end up in your food.
- HARSH CHEMICAL RESISTANCE – They are designed with limitations to harsh chemicals used during sterilization. The harsh chemicals can cause the plastic additives to leach into your food.
- FLAVOR TRANSFER – Additionally, some packaging materials allow certain chemicals to pass through them, transferring odors or flavors to other foods stored in the same area. Butter should never taste like fish. Just saying.
- WEAK MATERIALS – More importantly, these packaging containers are made from very soft and brittle plastic that is more prone to flaking, blistering, deformation, and melting.
- PLASTIC ADDITIVES IN FOOD – Transferred additives from the plastic can penetrate into the food and could compromise a person’s health.
To be on the safe side, it is good idea to instead use FDA approved NSF Listed food storage containers with lids. These take the worry away as they are designed to handle harsh conditions and chemicals often found in commercial kitchens. You would also be doing something good for the environment as you’ll get long-term use out of these and will not have to toss them out and have them end up in a landfill. Your customers and Mother Earth will certainly thank you for this.