Polystyrene foam is a common item that has been deemed safe for a variety of applications.
The US Food and Drug Administration has established foam as safe for both hot and cold foods and drinks. In fact, naturally occurring styrene is found in strawberries, cinnamon, coffee beans and more.
Microwaves heat the food or beverage, and the food or beverage then heats the container. Knowing this, consumers should evaluate how foam products will react with their desired food or beverage application to determine microwave suitability. Learn more about foam foodservice packaging and microwaves from the Foodservice Packaging Institute and Harvard Health Publishing.
For example, a study in Las Vegas found 18 percent of reusable items tested had higher than acceptable bacterial counts. A similar study in Sacramento County found nearly 30 percent of reusable items tested had higher than acceptable bacterial counts. And a third study in Wisconsin discovered that unprotected tables and trays had up to 23 times higher bacterial counts than those with single-use placemats and tray covers.
Styrene can also be formed synthetically from petroleum and natural gas byproducts. Styrene is a clear and colorless liquid that helps create strong, flexible and lightweight products, such as food containers, packaging materials, cars and boats. While trace amounts of styrene may migrate from polystyrene food containers and packaging, it does not adversely affect consumer health. The US Food and Drug Administration has deemed foam food packaging as safe for hot and cold food applications and beverages.
Pentane has no effect on the upper ozone layer. Many foam manufacturing plants recapture and reuse a substantial portion of the pentane released in production processes as fuel. Carbon dioxide is non-toxic and non-flammable and does not contribute to low-level smog or deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. Additionally, using carbon dioxide as a blowing agent does not increase carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.