Plastic drums for the food industry

Drum Liner in drum

Classic, blue plastic barrels are a common sight in warehouses, supermarkets and storage areas across the world.

Blue plastic barrels are the perfect container for many industrial items. In particular, food grade plastic barrels are excellent for storing and transporting foodstuffs safely.

Plastic drums used in the food industry need to be suitably decontaminated and certified safe for carrying and storing consumable items in the long term.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at how plastic drums can be used safely in the food industry.


Plastic drums are one of the most common forms of industrial storage. They have a wide range of uses and offer a number of benefits when it comes to long-term storage and transportation of industrial quantities of goods.

Most plastic drums are coloured blue and produced from HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), a durable form of plastic that can be easily moulded while lasting for many years.

Also referred to as plastic barrels, they’re produced in a range of capacities, generally running from 30 litres up to 220 litres.

There are two major distinctions or two major types of plastic barrel that you will encounter in the industrial world: tight head plastic drums and open top plastic drums.


Open top plastic drums have a secure lid that can be safely removed and replaced from the top of the barrel. The removable lid allows the plastic drum to be filled and emptied with ease for transport or storage.


Tight head plastic drums are completely sealed at the top in contrast to open top plastic drums. They’re emptied or filled through small nozzles or taps, which can be removed or sealed.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of barrel. Tight head barrels offer extra protection and are more securely sealed than open top barrels. In the food industry, tight head barrels are usually used to transport and store liquids, whereas open top barrels are employed to transport and store semi-solids, powders, and other similar foodstuffs.  


Aside from their use in the food industry, plastic drums have a wide range of uses across many other industries, ranging from the transport of chemicals to the storage of oils. Their practicality is the main reason why they have such a diverse number of usages.

Within different industries, their primary role is always for transport and/or storage. Plastic drums can be stacked to help facilitate storage, and can be provided with a wide range of liners to make cleaning easier.


Within the food industry, food grade plastic barrels are used in a number of areas, for both storage and transport purposes.

They’re cost-efficient, durable and long lasting, making them a useful investment for businesses that need to store and transport large quantities of foodstuffs. Larger containers have plastic handles to make them easier to lift, while all plastic drums are reusable, so they’re a great option for businesses concerned about the environment.

Here are the most common ways food grade plastic barrels are used:

  • To store and transport large quantities of liquids. This includes industrial quantities of cooking oil and drinks.
  • To store and transport large quantities of semi-solid foodstuffs. This includes industrial quantities of condiments or sauces, such as ketchup or mayonnaise.
  • To store and transport large quantities of powdered foodstuffs, such as cooking spices or powdered milk.


Because of their industrial capacity, food grade plastic barrels are used by industrial food suppliers to keep restaurants and cafes well stocked.

Because food is involved, plastic drums used for storing consumables need to be safe for long-term storage. If you are using plastic drums for food storage, they need to be food-grade quality.

Over time, some plastics will degrade. If this happens, food can be contaminated with plastic or other harmful chemicals that might be present in the material the barrel is made from. This is hazardous to human health, and is certainly not up to food safety standards in any country.

Other barrels that are not of food-grade quality could contain harmful dyes, which can contaminate foodstuff and be dangerous if consumed. For this reason, it’s essential to ensure your plastic barrels are food-grade plastic before using them to store food.


Food grade plastic barrels are certified safe for long-term food storage. This means the plastic material used won’t degrade while food is stored inside it.

Food grade plastic barrels are certified safe for long-term food storage. This means the plastic material used won’t degrade while food is stored inside it.

There is also a distinction between ‘food safe’ and ‘food grade’. If a plastic drum is only food safe, it might not be suitable for long-term storage. To be totally safe, your barrel needs to be tested and labelled as food-grade quality.


While food grade plastic barrels are safe for you to store food and drink directly inside the drum, you can reduce the changes of contamination by using drum liners.

Plastic drums are often re-used. If you are unsure whether they have been sufficiently cleaned and decontaminated from previous use with other materials, then a drum liner will give you that peace of mind.

Drum liners allow you to store your product without it touching the sides of the barrel, to keep things super safe and secure.


ITP Packaging offers a wide range of food grade plastic barrels that can confidently be used for long-term storage or transportation of a huge range of foodstuffs, ingredients and liquids.  

We offer the classic blue plastic barrel, with either a closed tight head or an open top. Both can be purchased in bulk, in a range of capacities.

Contact ITP Packaging and speak with our expert team to find out how we can meet all your industrial packaging needs for the food industry.

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