In the food service and logistics industries, food-grade totes are a specific type of container that is used to store and transfer food products. They are often used to store liquids and foods in semi-liquid state, but there is no such requirement. A food-grade tote could just as easily store something such as grain or even a powder.
This post will act as a basic introduction to food-grade totes made from plastic. More often than not, these plastic totes come equipped from the factory with a protective cage and a pallet foundation. They can be easily moved by forklift and stacked for easier storage.
1.What Constitutes Food Grade
People sometimes confuse food grade with food safe. A tote certified as food grade is made with materials that are in no way dangerous to human health. They cannot leach dangerous substances either. High density polyethylene is a preferred material for making plastic food-grade totes.
As for food safe, that is a designation that implies a tote is safe to put food into. A food-grade tote that was recently emptied, but not cleaned and sanitized, may no longer be food safe. Bacteria may have already started growing on its inside surfaces. To make it food safe, it needs to be clean and sterilized.
Food totes can come in all shapes and sizes. But again, this post is about plastic totes with metal frames and pallet foundations. These are the standardized totes used to ship food over long distances. Cedar Stone Industry says they generally come in one of two sizes, designated by capacity rather than dimensions.
The larger has a capacity of 330 gallons. The smaller can hold just 275 gallons. Both types of food-grade totes are cube shaped in order to improve logistics efficiency. In short, both types of totes will have the same length and width. The larger capacity tote will be taller.
3.New, Reconditioned, and Used
We finally get to the money question: whether an organization should buy their food-grade totes new, reconditioned, or used. The first option should be pretty easy to understand. New totes come directly from manufacturers and distributors. They are inspected and certified for use. However, new totes are obviously more expensive than their reconditioned and used counterparts.
A reconditioned food-grade tote is a used tote which has been put through a cleaning and restoration process that has been designed to make it like new. A reconditioned tote is first cleaned thoroughly. Next, any necessary repairs are made. This could be anything from repairing a crack to replacing part of the metal cage.
Once repairs have been carried out, the tote is cleaned and sanitized. Now it is ready to go back into service. Still, buyers are taking a chance that it has significant useful life left in it.
Finally, a used food-grade tote has not been reconditioned unless it is specifically labeled as such. It has only been cleaned and, in some cases, sanitized. The risks here should be pretty obvious. A tote that has not been reconditioned could have some flaws that prove problematic. There also may be no guarantees that a used tote is food-safe even though it was originally food grade.
Making the Food World Go Around
Food-grade totes make the food world go around. They are the king of long-term food storage. They are pretty useful for transport well. If you are in the market for one or two totes, just remember that food grade and food-safe are two different things. Be sure you know what you are buying before you lay out the cash.