While the market is flush with many different types of food-grade storage containers, the overwhelming consensus among packaging experts is that stainless steel offers numerous advantages, making it the clear choice. When it comes to food-grade containers, most food manufacturers tend to gravitate toward either stainless steel or plastic for storing perishables. While plastic is typically much lighter than steel, when it comes to storing consumables, steel wins every time. Sanitary, nonporous, durable, and eco-friendly, stainless steel containers, like our 304 and 316 Stainless Steel drums, are becoming the industry standard for storing perishables.
Stainless Steel: A Nonporous Alternative to Plastic
Stainless steel offers a nonporous alternative to plastic barrels, which is a significant advantage for many reasons. First, plastic barrels, even when sanitized for re-use, will tend to retain the odor of whatever was previously held in the container. Some of the flavor from a plastic barrel’s previous contents may leech back into its new contents, potentially contaminating or ruining whatever is being stored within the barrel. Stainless steel, on the other hand, provides a fresh, odorless vessel regardless of whether it’s the first or fifth use for the barrel.
Furthermore, because stainless steel is nonporous, it is far easier to sanitize and prep for re-use than plastic. The porosity of plastic barrels opens up the door for bacterial, viral, or fungal growth within the barrel, which could bleed into the contents of the barrel. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is impenetrable, making the process of sanitizing between uses easier. Seamless construction of stainless steel barrels can also make the barrels that much easier to clean, in situations where ease of cleaning is important. With stainless steel, a food manufacturer can be confident their food will be stored in a clean, odor-free container.
Stainless Steel is Far Stronger and More Durable than Plastic
Not too surprisingly, stainless steel is markedly stronger than plastic (high-density polyethylene). In fact, 304 stainless steel is more than 25 times as strong, and 316 stainless steel is more than 29 times as strong. Stainless steel’s impressive strength makes it far more durable than plastic, providing better protection for perishables during transport and storage. In addition, stainless steel drums are ideal for products that require corrosion resistant packaging. Both 304 and 316 stainless steel drums are made from austenitic stainless steel, which means they have high levels of chromium, making them highly resistant to corrosion.
Eco-Friendly, Sustainable, and Entirely Reusable
When it comes to determining the environmental impact of a material, its sustainability and recyclability are the two biggest considerations. Sustainable materials offer social and economic benefits while still not having a significant impact on the public or environmental health throughout the material’s life cycle, from extraction through to the material’s final disposal. Steel is the world’s most recycled material, with more steel recycled in any given year than all the other materials combined. Because stainless steel drums are nonporous and tested to withstand extreme conditions, they are able to be reused several times before being sent off to the recycling factory. Unlike plastic, which can be recycled once, maybe twice, before its final disposal, steel can be recycled an infinite number of times with no degradation in its material properties. That means recycled steel is just as strong as virgin-sourced steel, giving it an infinite life-cycle that is entirely sustainable.
With any perishable packaging, check with the manufacturer to assure that all products (seaming compound, gasket, and adhesive) used in manufacturing is generally recognized as safe by the FDA.
Packaging Specialties offers 304 and 316 stainless steel drums – as well as other alloys to meet your specific needs. From five inches to forty-eight inches in diameter and from five inches to more than ten feet tall, our stainless steel drums can be made in virtually endless configurations to meet your perishable food storage needs. Contact us today to learn more.