The digital age has created an environment where consumers can order just about anything and have it shipped right to their door. The pandemic taught us to cherish friends and family, and companies started offering shipping services for food items you could send directly to your loved ones.
Sending a friend some cookies to celebrate their new job? A candy basket for a child’s birthday? Shopping on Amazon for your favorite snacks for the workweek? These types of orders have become increasingly popular. But how do you know those food items are safe for consumption?
The FDA has put strict regulations in place for all food and food-related items that must be adhered to before being shipped. This protects the food all the way from when it’s made and packaged to when it arrives on your doorstep.
Does FDA Compliant Mean the Same Thing as Food Grade?
Yes, essentially, they mean the same thing. FDA compliant means that a material meets all the FDA’s guidelines for safe, direct contact with food. To be food grade, materials need to be non-toxic and safe for consumption. The material must be able to withstand the environment it will be used in.
What Are Food Grade Shipping Bags?
For shipping bags to be food grade, the plastic has to be deemed safe for use with foods. Plastic must meet strict requirements before being considered food safe. Other plastics that are used to ship non-food related items are not held by the same requirements.
The most common food grade plastic bags are cellophane bags. Cellophane is a thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose. It has low permeability to oils, bacteria, air, and water, making it the ideal choice for food packaging.
Cellophane bags are used all over the world, primarily for food packaging. They are known to increase the shelf life of food items by protecting them from dust, dirt, and water. They can also be heat sealed, keeping food items fresher for longer periods of time.
3 Types of Cellophane Bags:
- Flat-style bag
- Side-gusseted bag
- Resealable bag
Flat Cellophane Bags
Flat cellophane bags are the perfect choice for mailing cards, invitations, and individual cookies. If you are unsure if your item will fit, measure the opening for the width and the usable portion of the bag for the length.
Side-Gusseted Cellophane Bags
The side-gusseted cellophane bags are a great option for shipping small items, candy gift bags, gift baskets, and baked goods. These bags are generally gathered at the top and tied with a ribbon or elastic. When measuring your items, measure the opening for the width, the distance across for the depth, and the usable portion for the length.
Resealable Cellophane Bags
Resealable cellophane bags are perfect for shipping jewelry, hair accessories, and candy. Measure the opening of the bag for the width and the usable portion of the bag for the length.
Shop4Mailers polypropylene-style bags are perfect for shipping your food items and have an adhesive closure that is resealable. Confirm the size of your product and place your order!
How does the FDA Classify Food Grade?
While food grade may not mean the same thing across the board, the FDA classifies its food grade by three things:
The identity of the substance
The specifications of the substance, including the purity and physical properties
The limitations of the substance on the conditions of use
Chemicals in the packaging of non-food grade materials can leach or bleed into the exposed product, causing concerns for safety. Food grade plastic bags avoid these safety concerns as they are explicitly designed to be in contact with food.
Where Is Food Grade Plastic Used?
Food grade plastic is used all around you. You’ll find it everywhere, from being used in the packaging and shipping of harvested crops that make it onto the shelves of your supermarket to packaging for the distribution of pharmaceutical products.
Food grade plastics include plastic bottles, jars, milk jugs, squeeze-dispenser bottles, cling wrap, food storage bags, bread bags, produce bags, bottles for medication, plastic silverware, and to-go containers. Many other materials can also be made food grade safe.
Does Food Packaging Need FDA Approval?
Food grade plastic must be produced in a safe environment using safe materials. For plastic that comes in constant contact with food or food related products, it must abide by the following:
- Be Protective – the plastic must act as a defense for contamination or moisture and won’t break down.
- Be chemically safe – the plastic must not contaminate the food it comes in contact with, ensuring that taste and adverse health effects won’t be an issue.
- Be durable – the plastic must protect the food items during all stages of shipping, from manufacturing to packaging to storage and transportation.
When purchasing your shipping mailers, choose a manufacturer that provides FDA-approved plastic bags and is knowledgeable of the FDA’s regulations regarding packaging food. The bags shouldn’t contain any dyes or recycled plastic that is deemed harmful to humans.
Shipping Your Food Items
Now that you have chosen the right cellophane bag for your food items, it is time to choose your shipping mailer. While some opt to ship their clear bag directly, others prefer some added protection or privacy for shipping. Poly mailers are affordable, eco-friendly, and take up little to no room at all to store.
Types of Shipping Mailers
White Shipping Mailers
The most common shipping mailers are the plain white ones. Low in cost and available in several sizes, these mailers are perfect for all of your shipping needs. If you are shipping individual cookies in cellophane bags, place them in a mailer before sending for extra protection.
Clear Shipping Mailers
Clear shipping mailers are exactly as you’d expect. The most common items shipped in these clear bags are magazines and shipping labels.
Colorful Shipping Mailers
If white isn’t your style, opt for a colorful mailer. It still provides protection to food and other items but adds an extra pop to go with your product. For example, the company Ipsy, which sells makeup sample products to customers on a monthly subscription basis, is known for its bright-colored pink mailers.
Designed Shipping Mailers
If you are looking to add a personal touch to your shipping mailer on top of a bright color, you can design your mailer by adding your logo. For example, Old Navy ships clothing products in poly mailers with their logo branded right on the package.
Bubble Shipping Mailers
Bubble shipping mailers have bubble padding on the inside of the mailer envelope for extra protection for your items. If you are worried about your cookies breaking in transit, bubble mailers may be the choice for you. Keep in mind they are bulkier, less flexible, and are more expensive than regular shipping mailers.
Food grade and FDA compliance plastic bags are imperative in keeping people safe. The FDA is responsible for protecting millions of people every day and making the important decision of what is safe to go to market. Shop4Mailers is committed to upholding these standards and providing you with the plastic bags and shipping mailers you need to stay compliant.