Few manufacturing materials are as versatile as expanded polystyrene (EPS). Manufacturers turn to EPS for everything from insulated construction panels to recyclable polystyrene insulation. It is the material of choice for food packaging around the world.

It is no exaggeration to say that when it comes to food packaging, EPS rules the roost. It’s also easy to understand why. EPS offers some key characteristics that are perfectly suited to protecting food and keeping it fresh. Manufacturers can do things with EPS that cannot be accomplished with any other packaging material.

Key Properties of EPS

EPS is known for four key properties that make it ideal for food packaging. EPS offers low thermal conductivity, and that’s just for starters. Low thermal conductivity makes the material a particularly good insulator for both hot and cold foods. Furthermore, a well-designed EPS package can maintain food temperatures for extended periods of time.

Proper temperature control prevents food spoilage; it prevents bacterial growth as well. Both are key to packing and transporting food safely. But let’s not stop there. Here are the other three properties:

  1. Temperature Range – EPS packaging can withstand a significant range of temperatures. It can handle temperatures as cold as -110°F and as high as 176°F. That makes it suitable for a wide variety of food products.
  2. Low Weight – Lightweight EPS is easier on both transportation costs and emissions. Most other types of food packaging are heavier than EPS.
  3. Hygienic – EPS is a hygienic material that offers a sanitary environment for highly sensitive food products. When you need a packaging material capable of preventing external contamination, EPS is what you want.

Considering these four key properties almost makes it seem like EPS was intended to be the food packaging material of choice all along. We don’t know whether this is the case, but it doesn’t really matter. As stated earlier, when it comes to food packaging, EPS rules the roost.

Packaging Fresh Produce, Meat, and Seafood

If you deal in fresh produce, take a good look at EPS boxes. They create an ideal storage environment for fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Anything packaged in an EPS box is less susceptible to bacteria, contamination, and premature degradation.

Meat and seafood are best packaged in EPS as well. In fact, thousands of tons of seafood and meat are packaged in EPS every year. EPS packaging extends shelf life by maintaining optimal temperatures throughout storage and transportation. When optimal temperatures are maintained, exudation is limited.

Food Packaging for Restaurants

While food manufacturers and distributors rely heavily on EPS food packaging, you might be more familiar with the concept at the local level. For example, EPS is one option for restaurant food packaging. Think of takeout meals packaged in EPS boxes and trays.

EPS food packaging keeps restaurant food hot or cold until the customer gets it home. Likewise, with door-to-door food delivery so popular right now, EPS packaging maintains temperature and minimizes the contamination along the way. An added bonus is that EPS packaging is cost effective for restaurants.

Unfortunately, some states and local jurisdictions have moved to ban food packaging EPS products. Local restaurants, markets, and food cooperatives have been left scrambling in the search for more eco-friendly alternatives.

Where EPS food packaging is allowed, it is the best choice for keeping fresh food fresh. It’s the best choice for maintaining food temperature, preventing external contamination, and inhibiting bacterial growth. What’s not to love about this incredibly versatile material? If you would like to know more about it for food packaging, please don’t hesitate to contact Epsilyte.