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Sunday, September 19, 2021

How to Tell if an IBC Tote Is Food Grade

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a few stacks of ibc totes outside

Source: Marco Torelli Fotografia / Shutterstock.com


An intermediate bulk container (IBC) is a type of storage unit designed to hold various materials in a warehouse, in a storage facility or in transit. Materials that IBCs are used to store include food, liquids, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, sand, grains and more. This type of storage container is very popular because they are durable and affordable. IBCs are made from various materials, depending on the intended use. 

Certain types of IBC totes are food grade, meaning they can be used to store food. Food grade totes are usually marked to indicate to the user that they are safe for storing food. It’s vital that you check for this marking before it makes contact with ingestible products. Otherwise, the consumers may ingest hazardous materials. 

When an IBC tote is certified as Food Grade, it was manufactured using safe materials to store products for human consumption. If you’re using an IBC to store food, you shouldn’t use it for anything else because traces of other materials can remain within the container. If your business involves handling food, you must learn how to tell if an IBC tote is food grade.

Types of IBC Totes

There are several different types of IBCs, and they are available in a range of sizes. Whether you’re buying new or second-hand, you can find 110, 330, 550 and even 275 gallon totes for sale. Their dimensions fit a global standard and are generally around 45” L x 45” W. They are designed to be transported by forklifts and have built-in pallets. There are three main types of IBCs. 

Visit Air Sea Containers for a Selection of Food-Grade IBC Totes

Caged totes are relatively cheap and are frequently used for one-off storage or transport. They are often used in the chemical industry for carrying acids, caustics, detergents, solvents, agricultural crop chemicals and certain food products. Poly-caged totes can be reused in some circumstances. However, reuse is only suitable for clean and non-sensitive materials or water storage. 

These IBC tanks are made from polyethylene (HDPE) and are molded to ½” thick plastic. They are highly resistant to corrosion and chemical damage, making them durable and often reusable. All-plastic IBCs are used for storing or transporting chemical, petroleum goods, hazardous materials and water. 

Metal IBCs are available in two main materials: carbon and stainless steel. They are generally the most durable and resistant IBCs and have the longest average lifespan. Carbon IBCs are used mainly for chemicals, oils and solvents. Stainless steel is the main material used to make food grade totes. These highly durable totes are easy to sterilize and maintain, making them the ideal choice for transporting and storing food. 

a group of stacked ibc totes outside of a warehouse

Source: Siwanan K / Shutterstock.com

What Determines Food Grade?

Food grade totes are made from materials that have been regulated and certified as safe for consumable and food applications. They can store and transport liquids, semi-solids, powdered foods, solid foods and other consumable items. All are manufactured with hygiene in mind, and some are suited to blending, distillation and mixing. 

As with custom shipping boxes for hazardous materials, food grade IBC totes are Department of Transportation (DOT) and United Nations (UN) approved, ensuring they meet health and safety standards domestically and overseas. 

To tell whether an IBC tote is food grade, check the packaging. All food-grade HDPE IBC totes (apart from caged totes) have DOT/UN markings molded into the sidewall for long-term visibility. Company-specific information is generally an option for sidewall markings too. 

HDPE IBC caged totes usually have food-grade signs or markings near the bottom of the tote located next to plastic or recyclable markings. 

If an IBC tote doesn’t have these markings, it is not an approved food-grade product. 

Air Sea Containers Is a Leading Provider of Custom Packaging Options

Benefits of Using a Food-Grade IBC Tote

There are several different storage options for holding food. However, IBCs are some of the most popular. The main benefits of using this type of storage container are: 

  • Efficient storage: IBC totes are extremely efficient. They come in a variety of sizes and can hold a large amount of food. They are designed to fill warehouse space effectively and can be stacked to maximize your storage space. 
  • Ease of transportation: Due to the uniform shape, size and design of these items, they are easy to transport.
  • Cost-effective: Bulk shipping containers are often quite expensive. IBCs are affordable containers for transporting goods in large volumes.
  • Reusable: Certain IBCs are reusable, making them a long-term asset to your business. 
  • Durability: Food grade IBC totes are manufactured using rugged materials. They’re designed to be resilient during adverse weather, and they are watertight, preventing costly leaks when your goods are transported. 

a close up of the top of an ibc tote

Source: Marco Torelli Fotografia / Shutterstock.com

Partner with Air Sea Containers

If your business is involved with the storage or transportation of food or food-related goods, ensure you invest in quality and regulated food grade IBC totes. We are a leading supplier of packaging materials and can provide you with the right food handling products to ensure the safety of your inventory.


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