I see a lot of discussion about storing food in plastic five-gallon buckets and whether or not they are food grade. This is a topic that concerns me. There is a lot of misinformation being spread on this subject.
Having a recycling number of 2 in the small triangle on the bucket does not mean that it is food grade. It just refers to how the bucket needs to be recycled.
Many people feel that if they store them in Mylar Bags inside the buckets the food will be unaffected. To the best of my knowledge, this is correct, but I still feel there is an advantage to using food grade buckets.
The difference between food grade and non-food grade is the types of dyes used for coloring and the type of chemicals used to release the buckets from the molds. It has nothing to do with the sanitary conditions under which they are made as posted on some sites.
The problem I have with non-food grade buckets is that in the future you have no idea what that bucket will be used for. In the future, I intent to use my buckets for storing fresh foods, pickling, brining, processing olives and carrying fresh water. I don’t know what affect the chemicals and dyes might have on my family or me. For instance the salt in brining may leach the chemicals out. I just prefer not to take the chance.
Food grade buckets are easy to find and often can be obtained for free. Check with your local bakeries and supermarkets, they often will save them and give them to you for nothing. The buckets often are not marked as food grade. The store you purchase them from should tell you if there are food grade or if they contained food products. Most food grade buckets are white.
Do not stack buckets containing grains or other heavy items over 2 or 3 high. I have seen them fail and the bottoms ones split open after several years.