How Do You Know If Buckets Are Food Grade

Dec 16th 2021

Consumer products don’t get much more versatile than the plastic 5 gallon bucket. And while you may think all buckets are generally the same, in reality they come in a number of different sizes, can be made from a variety of plastic types, and are suitable for a range of different uses.

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at food grade buckets. We’ll answer the big questions, including what makes them unique, how to know one when you see one, and how to properly use (and seal) them. Let’s get started!

Is There a Difference between Food Grade Buckets and Regular Buckets?

Yes! Mainly, it comes down to two things: what they’re made of and what they’re used for. What the bucket is made of (the specific type of plastic) matters, because some plastic containers contain chemicals that can leach out over time, creating potential toxicity.

Why Does It Matter, and Do You Have to Use Food Grade Buckets?

To be clear, if you are planning to store food in it, then you really need to use a food grade bucket. Whether you’re a farmer, restaurant owner, or just want to be prepared for emergencies, the last thing you want is to risk contamination or spoilage, which can put lives and livelihoods at risk. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re using a bucket that’s airtight and made of the right material—in other words, a food grade bucket.

Can You Store Food in Regular Buckets?

Yes, you can technically store food in regular buckets, but you won’t enjoy the benefits a food grade bucket would provide and may risk getting someone sick.

Is My 5 Gallon Bucket Food Grade?

There are a number of tips for how to tell if a bucket is food grade. The easiest way is to check out the bucket’s bottom. You should find the following information:

Plastic Number

Check out the bucket’s universal recycling symbol; this relates to what type of plastic the bucket is made of. You should see the classic recycling symbol with a number inside of it. Generally, food grade plastics will be labeled with either 1, 2, 4, or 5. These refer to polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polypropylene (PP), respectively. (Learn more about food grade plastics here.)

Buckets made of HDPE (number 2) are generally considered the best material for food storage, especially over the long term. A vast majority of plastic buckets that are sold for food storage purposes will be made of HDPE. It’s important to note that not all HDPE buckets are food grade; to be sure, you’ll want to look for the cup and fork logo (described below) or other indication of “food safe” or “food grade” materials.

Cup and Fork

Elsewhere on the bottom of the bucket, some food-grade buckets will have a symbol consisting of a cup and fork on them. There may also be markings like “USDA approved” or “FDA approved.”

Other Indicators

Some food-grade buckets will have additional symbols related to specific uses—for example, radiation waves for microwave safety, or a snowflake for freezer safety. Some buckets will also simply say “Food Grade” or “Food Safe” when applicable. If you’re buying a bucket brand-new, it will likely have a sticker on it indicating whether it is food safe. When in doubt, ask the manufacturer or distributor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Food Grade Plastic BPA free?

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is an industrial chemical found in some plastic types that are used for food and beverage storage. Over time, BPA can seep into a bucket’s contents, leading some consumers to worry about toxicity or other health-related issues.

That being said, the FDA maintains that BPA is safe at very low levels, reassuring consumers that current regulations do effectively protect consumers. Follow these links to learn more about FDA compliance for food contact materials or FDA approved plastics for food contact. If BPA is a concern for you, be sure to seek out food grade containers that are BPA-free, like those you’ll find at

How Do I Seal a Food Grade Bucket?

A rubber-sealed lid is the key to ensuring a food grade bucket is properly closed and airtight. Otherwise, you risk spoilage or other contamination.

There are two main types of lids appropriate for food grade buckets. The first is a common snap lid with a rubber gasket, which provides an effective seal as long as you’re careful to close/seal the lid completely, all the way around. Gamma seal lids, (like Gamma Lids®) which screw on and also have the vital rubber gasket, work just as well. Again, just make sure you screw the lid on until you’re confident it is completely sealed.

Can I Reuse a Food Grade Bucket?

If a bucket has been deemed food grade and used for storing food previously, it can be reused for food storage. You’ll want to clean the bucket well, and then make sure the seal is still effective. If not, you can acquire a replacement lid with a fresh seal. If your food grade bucket was used for storing something other than food, you should not reuse it for food storage due to the risk of contamination from the previous contents. If you feel uneasy about reusing a bucket, though, it costs very little to go ahead and replace it—better safe than sorry (especially if you’re using the bucket primarily for long term food storage).

Is Mylar Food Safe?

One common alternative to the food grade bucket is to store dry goods (grains, rice, beans, etc.) in sealed mylar bags. The mylar bag method really isn’t appropriate for anything with much moisture, though. They’re also not rodent proof.

Something that is effective is to seal dry goods in a mylar bag, and then store the bagged food inside a 5 gallon bucket with a well-sealed lid. This way, food is kept dry and protected.

Explore ePackageSupply’s Food Grade Buckets

If you’re not sure where to buy food grade buckets, you happened upon the right blog today. At ePackageSupply, we have the food grade buckets and lids you’re looking for. Browse our inventory, let us know what you need, and you’ll be in business in no time at all!

Looking specifically for food grade buckets made in the USA? We’re veteran-owned and headquartered in Indiana, and every product we manufacture and distribute is made in the United States.

*ePackage exclusively sells official Gamma Lid® products.