We don't have a lot of tag wikis (or even excerpts) yet (hint hint...)...

But one of the ones we do have is for .

It reads:

(Excerpt) For products that are non-toxic and hypoallergenic.

(Wiki) Items that when ready for normal use will not have a toxic residue or allergens that could affect someone using it to prepare or eat food or drink.

I don't know much about what "foodsafe" means but I'm curious if it does actually mean "hypoallergenic". We've had one question about foodsafe surfaces and part of the answer includes the text:

Many of the food oil finishes are very food safe, peanut and walnut oils for example. However, these are not hypoallergenic, since people with nut oils can react to the finish in the wood. Though people with extreme allergies could even react to the walnut wood itself.

This implies that it's not implied to be hypoallergenic.

Does anyone have a sourced definition of what "food safe" means?

Also, apparently it needs to be two words ...

  • As a note, I'm not implying that our local definitions should be based on "legal" or "official" definitions... This often doesn't work at all... but in this case I feel that knowing what the general implication of "food safe" is is important.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 0:02
  • Not in my mind. Pillow case doesn't mean a cover for a pillow that's safe for sleeping and hypoallergenic. Have to buy a special case for the hypoallergenic property.
    – user24
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 0:02
  • That is certainly not, BPH - Free, it the new buzz word. IMHO Glass = good, plastic = not really. Coated materials & metals... questionable. Folks are coming up with replacement processes to Teflon, but a well-dressed cast iron pan is just good for you! Commented May 2, 2016 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


Food-safe is a mostly colloquial term, meaning safe to come in contact with food. "Food-grade" is also sometimes used. The more formal term is "food contact materials". The FDA version of that is "indirect food additives":

In general, these are food additives that come into contact with food as part of packaging, holding, or processing, but are not intended to be added directly to, become a component, or have a technical effect in or on the food. Indirect food additives mentioned in Title 21 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (21CFR) used in food-contact articles, include adhesives and components of coatings (Part 175), paper and paperboard components (Part 176), polymers (Part 177), and adjuvants and production aids (Part 178).

This is definitely not the same thing as hypoallergenic. Something with absolutely no connection to food can be hypoallergenic (like a pillow as mentioned in the comments). And conceivably something could be food-safe without being hypoallergenic (safe in general, but cause an allergic reaction in a few people), though I don't know off the top of my head of an example.

I don't have a direct source for the colloquial terms, but it's pretty easy to confirm this with Google; for example the results for "food-safe glue" are all about contact with food.

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