All You Need To Know About Food-Grade Adhesives

Updated: Mar 12

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The earliest known evidence of food-grade adhesive was discovered in central Italy — they dated back to the Middle Pleistocene era, around 200,000 years ago.


They were natural adhesives made mainly from a mixture of vegetable starch, organic resin, and animal proteins, e.g., milk. Oddly enough, although they were biodegradable and could be consumed, the adhesive was not used to preserve or “glue” food together but as a polymer to hold stones together and create better weapons.


It would take eons for the food-grade adhesive industry to make the leap and stick to their nomenclature and start being used in the industry for comestibles. In this article, we’re going to talk about what food-grade adhesives are, the type of adhesive we can find, and what exactly constitutes a food-SAFE adhesive.



What are food-grade adhesives?


water-based adhesives

Food grade adhesive is a type of glue that is used to stick food together. The main ingredients are usually sugar, water, and corn syrup. There are different types of food-grade adhesive. They can be used for different purposes - to make meat sticks, to make candy, to make cookies, etc. They were first employed in the candy industry.


Today, consumer safety is paramount when manufacturing packaging, beverage containers, and food glue. To regulate policy, and help protect the public, the FDA - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration - created a series of guidelines on what constitutes a food-safe adhesive. Rules that govern and underscore the manufacturer’s responsibility during the creation of them.



FDA, Section 175.105

FDA standard for food-grade adhesive

Section 175.105 of the FDA’s mandate stipulates what constitutes a food-safe adhesive — and there are quite a few on its list. According to the FDA, these types of glues can comprise any of the following:


  • Hot melt

  • Hide Glue.

  • Liquid-base glue.

  • Epoxies.

  • Silicone adhesive.


Each has its additional food-safe requirements for additives and coloring pigments. The best way to make sure that an adhesive is FDA approved is either by reaching out directly to the manufacturer and asking them or checking the FDA’s website for compliant adhesive suppliers.



Rules the FDA Has About Using Adhesives


The FDA is stringent on food-grade adhesives. Not only those that are used to hold foods together, in other words, for the manufacturing of foods, but those employed as a component of materials used in manufacturing, packing, transportation, and holding foods.


Some adhesives used in food packaging, not in manufacturing, often come in direct or even indirect contact with comestibles — this means that they have to pass more stringent safety requirements. Different stick bylines of the FDAs code — FDA 175.105 and 175.300.


On top of those regulations, the FDA also requires manufacturers to follow rue on what type of physical contact is permitted when it comes to adhesives and for.


For example:


  • Ensure that none approved adhesives are separated from food by a barrier — even if they are consumer safe and non-toxic.

  • Comply with limitations regarding fatty foods - like chocolates - and the quantity of adhesive used.



Types of Food Grade Adhesive


The types of food-grade adhesive were large, less than a couple of years ago, categorized into two main groups: cold-set adhesives and hot-set adhesives. Today that is no longer the case. Advances in food packaging and food preparation have opened the field to new tech, allowing vogue food-safe adhesives to enter the scene. In many cases, these adhesives are partly inspired by those two categories, offshoots of them.


Let’s take a look at the various Food-grade adhesives in the market and come to terms with their consumer safety levels.



Cold-Set adhesives

food-grade Cold-Set adhesives

Cold-set adhesives are applied to the surface of the food product to be sealed. They are then allowed to set until they reach their final strength, usually about 24 hours. These types of adhesives are typically used for sealing bread, cakes, pies, and other baked goods.


These types of adhesives are normally created from synthetic resin, and they can harden, without any additional help or additives, at average room temperature. In the industry, the baseline to define a cold-set adhesive is its temperature. — they are any food-grade adhesive that sets at a temperature below 68F.


They are safe for food consumption and are a must-have in most bakeries.



Hot-Set Adhesives


food-grade Hot-Set Adhesives with glue gun

Hot-set adhesives are applied to the surface of the food product and then heated until they reach their final strength, usually in about 5 minutes. These types of adhesives are typically used for sealing meats -such as bacon - or other items that require a quick setting time due to handling before cooking. Ground meats are particularly prone to this type of adhesive since their handling is so delicate, and they are used in such a widespread manner. In many cases, most fast-food franchises use Hot-Set Adhesives at a manufacturing level to deliver goods and prime ingredients to their chain stores.


These types of adhesive became ubiquitous in the industry in the late 1960s, around the time manufacturers were searching for new solutions that could optimize their process and deliver faster high-speed delivery of their products.


These types of adhesives can also be used to adhere labels to food — like the stickers applied to vegetables and foods.



Hide Glue Food Adhesive


food-grade Hide Glue

Hide glue is mostly a gelatin-based compound created from proteins or animal extracts. It is an FDA-approved food adhesive that’s eco-friendly and often used in the manufacturing of rigid boxes, stationery, and candy boxes. Along with water-based liquid glue resin, these types of adhesives are generally used for sealing foods, bottles and adequately regulating them.


Final


It’s essential to truly understand FDA requirements when it comes to the transportation of foods - particularly chocolate. Faulty adhesives or below-par packaging can hurt the way your consumer receives their products and the way it affects their health.


Here at Michael Package, we’re serious about food safety standards and how you deliver your products to your consumers. We choose food-grade adhesive for manufacturing your chocolate cushion pads.


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