Is PVC Food Safe?

I once been to oil refilling factory. They are using blue pvc pipe. I don’t really mind its safety as the whole area is very dirty from the start.¬† I warned my wife about unbranded oil but she keeps on buying.

Some manufacturers are using pvc containers for their product. See this post for example, “Wafer Sticks in PVC container | Bottle for beverage use only“.

There was a time, I was working in the laboratory. I noticed the corn oil we were using was packed in pvc container. It was sitting on storage for quite a while and it seemed the oil reacted to container to some extent. Its inside and out was partially melted and greasy.

PVC has poor heat resistance. Starting to decompose at 140C and melt at 160. Stabilizer is added during manufacturing process making it more stable.

Pure pvc is not applicable for heat application. Adding stabilizers makes it fit, but the ingredient added will also be in question.

According to wiki, pvc is chemical resistant to acids, salts, bases,fats, alcohols therefore it is used in sewerage piping. It is also resistant to some solvents, mainly uPVC, plastified PVC is in some cases less resistant to solvents.

So uPVC won’t react to wide variety of chemicals under normal conditions. This property make it suitable for sewerage systems. It won’t be damaged with whatever liquid it carries. The plasticized pvc, on the other hand, is not as sturdy. That is why it is regarded as food unsafe, and other pvc types are generalized as unsafe.

The fact that uPVC is widely used for sewage system makes it look unfit for food manufacturing.

PVC pipes are usually color coded. The black is of the lowest quality. It is brittle and easily shatter. Leaving it exposed under sun’s heat exploit this weakness even more. I never bothered looking what it is composed of.

uPVC come in orange shades. Be careful in buying them. Pipes of the same size but of different brands never fit together. Choose one brand only. Often, more expensive brands are tougher.

orange upvc pipe

Though it is chemical resistant, it is prone to scratches. It should not be used to transport semi-solid and solid foods.

The blue water pipes are PVC or plasticized PVC. It emit a nasty smell when cut that disappears shortly. No question here. It is definitely not for food contact. However, it is widely used to carry drinking water around the world. The water it carry then end up to food. We have a nice sense of logic here.

The white colored  pvc pipe is becoming available locally. I am currently seeing 1/2 to 3/4 size. According to it is Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride (CPVC). A thermoplastic pipe and fitting material made with CPVC compounds meeting the requirements of ASTM Class 23447 as defined in ASTM Specification D1784. Indicated application are potable water distribution, corrosive fluid handling in industry, and fire suppression systems.

It can handle corrosive fluid so I cannot see any reason why it cannot be applied for food. Maybe, stainless steel is beyond compare.

The blue flexible water pipe, usually in coil is not PVC. It is MDPE, medium density polyethylene.

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