What 5 Gallon Buckets Are Food Safe?

Dec 8th 2021

Got a bumper crop of cucumbers that you want to turn into pickles? Maybe you want to create an emergency food stash in a 5 gallon food grade bucket with screw on lid because of an upcoming hurricane. Perhaps you’ve got a restaurant or bakery where you have to prep and store large quantities of food on a daily basis. No matter the reason, we’ve got the answers to how you can determine if the 5 gallon bucket you want to use is safe to come into contact with food.

How Can You Tell if a 5 Gallon Bucket Is Food Safe?

The best way to tell if a 5 gallon bucket is food safe is to purchase a bucket that is specifically designated as “food safe.” If you aren’t sure, you can flip it over and check the recycling code on the bottom. Certain types of plastics are considered food safe, while others are not. Inside the recycling symbol, you’ll see a number between 1 and 7. Food grade 5 gallon buckets are generally numbered as either 1, 2, 4, or 5.

What 5 Gallon Buckets Are Food Safe?

The food safe plastics are:

  • 1 - Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

These plastics are usually transparent. PETE is lightweight and strong.

  • 2 - High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

As one of the most stable and inert forms of plastics, HDPE is the most common type of plastic used for food storage. Most “food safe” 5 gallon buckets are made from HDPE.

  • 4 - Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE is a thinner and more flexible version of HDPE.

  • 5 - Polypropylene (PP)

Most drinking straws and hot food containers are made from polypropylene, due to the heat resistant and flexible qualities of this material.

In addition to the recycling symbol, there may be other symbols to indicate food safety.

  • Cup and fork - indicates the container is safe to store food
  • Radiation waves/squiggly lines - means microwave safe
  • Snowflake - shows that the bucket is freezer safe
  • Dishes in water - means that the container is dishwasher safe

Do 5 Gallon Buckets Have BPA?

Some of them may. It’s important to know that some food grade plastics may include bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA. This is a chemical that is used in consumer products, especially containers that are used for food and drink storage, like water bottles. Some studies show that there are potential health effects for people who ingest too much BPA, although the Food and Drug Administration (BPA) has stated that BPA is safe at a very low level. If you are concerned about your consumption of BPA, you should seek out food storage products that are marked “BPA-free,” like the 5 gallon buckets you’ll find at ePackageSupply.com.

Can You Store Food in Regular Buckets?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should—many 5 gallon buckets are made out of food grade plastics, but not all of them. If the bucket that you want to store food in doesn’t have the proper code on it, then you should not store food in it.

In addition to the bucket itself, you should consider the lid that you are using. When dealing with food safety, you can’t be too cautious! Just like the bucket itself, the lid should be rated as food safe, and have an appropriate seal. A gasketed lid will provide a tighter seal, helping to keep your food from spoiling.

Are 5 Gallon Paint Buckets Food Safe?

Most 5 gallon paint buckets are not food safe, since they are typically made from plastics that are not food grade. Even if a paint bucket is the proper type of plastic, you should never store food in a bucket that has been previously used for paint or other non-food uses.

What Is the Difference Between Food Grade Buckets and Regular Buckets?

In addition to being made from different types of plastics, another major difference is the thickness of the buckets. Food grade buckets tend to be thicker, to protect the food better. Other buckets may be thinner, to be lighter weight. Another difference is the types of dyes used to color the plastic. Food safe buckets are typically free from dyes to prevent the colorant from leaching into the food. Yet another difference is that when 5 gallon buckets are being manufactured, there is often a chemical used to release the buckets from the mold. For food grade buckets, that chemical is guaranteed to be food safe, while other buckets may use potentially toxic chemicals for this process.

How Can I Find Food Grade Buckets Near Me?

At ePackageSupply.com, of course! Our 5 gallon food grade buckets are made of FDA-approved, BPA-free HDPE plastic and at 90 mil thick, you can be assured that your food will be safe for the recommended shelf life. In addition to our buckets, we also sell a variety of food-safe lids (gasketed and non-gasketed, pour spout, and gamma seal). You can easily purchase bulk food grade buckets through our website or, if you only need one or two buckets, you can purchase any quantity, no minimum required. Looking for more than buckets? We’ve got you covered. We have containers, lids, jars, cups, and more—all food grade and ready for your prepping, serving, and storage needs. Contact us today with any questions!

*ePackage exclusively sells official Gamma Lid® products.