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Things to Look Out for When Buying Food Containers for Catering

18 March, 2016

Catering is, to all intents and purposes, a mobile restaurant.

At its highest level it offers all the sophisticated cuisine of a restaurant anywhere the client wishes it to be served. Which means food, be it fresh or cooked, has to be fit to travel. Storage is therefore a critical component in successful catering if you don't want the words 'food' and 'poisoning' appearing together in online reviews. So here are a few tips to help you choose the right food containers.

Are your needs clear or not so clear?

In other words, do you need to see what you're storing or not? Depending on the storage prerequisites of your food your transparency choices range from clear polycarbonate to kind-of-clear polypropylene to not-at-all-clear white polyethylene.

Clear benefits: Easy food identification; shatter proof; long-lasting; resists acids and oils; able to handle anything from -40F to 210F; great for storing cold foods in refrigerators and freezers, though they can contain traces of Bisphenol-A (BPA) which may or may not be harmful depending on who you talk to.

Kind-of-clear benefits: Translucent for reasonable food identification; high chemical resistance; able to handle anything from -40F to 160F; completely free of BPA; perfect for cold food refrigerator and freezer storage if BPA is a concern, but you still want to see your ingredients.

Not-at-all-clear benefits: Need labels as food not visible; impact, stain and chemical resistant; able to resist anything from -40F to 160F; completely free of BPA; generally the lowest priced containers; perfect for cold food storage in both refrigerator and freezer if you're happy to label, are worried about BPA, and like the word 'cheap.'  

Are you round or square?

Shape-wise that's basically your choice.

Round benefits: better air circulation around food; faster cooling times.

Square benefits: more food storage in the same area. So if space is at a premium, it's hip to be square.

If you have the luxury of ample storage, round containers provide a slightly healthier environment.

How will you seal the deal?

Lids can be excruciatingly annoying things when you're in a hurry, not to mention a finger nail's worst enemy. So what are your options? Well, basically cambro-seal or snap-on.

Cambro-seal benefits: tight fitting with an inner and outer seal, so the container can be tipped upside down without spillage.

Snap-on benefits: spill-resistant, but may disappoint in the worst possible way. Snap-on lids offer basically the same air tight qualities and are cheaper. So if money rules over the odd mess, they're your most economical option.