Welcome to The Epoxy Posse where popular questions about epoxy are answered by an expert. These questions are answered by Nerpa Polymers developers. Chemical engineers on a mission to be authentic and transparent with a passion for manufacturing high-quality materials in a sustainable way.
Is resin food safe? This is a question that comes up a lot and the answers that you will find online are all over the place. How do you know who is right? Can you trust the label on the container? Well, sometimes the answers you will find online depend on the country you live in and your country's regulations as well as a resin company's marketing!
Here's what Nerpa had to say:
Is there such a thing as food-safe resin? (Can you put food on trays or charcuterie boards?) This question is complex and can be split into three parts, but first, I will give a simple answer:
in Canada, there is no set of regulations covering the composition and properties of DIY epoxy resin to be considered food safe and unfortunately, it is a gray area. But let's talk about it in more detail.
1. When resin and hardener are manufactured from materials that are approved by FDA, the cured epoxy can become food-safe. Usually, it means that there are no heavy metals or dangerous chemicals present in the resin or hardener, and cured material does not leak any unreacted parts into the surroundings. A perfect example would be an inside coating of an aluminum can of coke. This coating is made from food-safe epoxy at Coca Cola factory in controlled conditions and with quality control policies and procedures in place. Some brands that sell epoxy decided to exploit the food safety claim to boost their sales. They decided that as their products are made with FDA-approved materials, they can prepare a sample of cured epoxy in the ideal lab conditions and send it for food safety evaluation. When the results came back negative for heavy metal contamination and leaking parts into surroundings, they started calling their products "food-safe".
2. But is DIY resin really food-safe? Our position on this question is that food-safety claims can be misleading and be a reason for unwanted exposure to a chemical product. The problem hides in the variability of possible scenarios of how the product can be used at home. Some of the parameters that can vary and cause an incomplete cure are listed below:
Ambient temperature range
Incorrect mixing ratio
high concentration of pigments/dyes
exposure of the hardener to carbon dioxide/moisture for a long time
And many others
Unfortunately, variability in the application process is not controlled and there is no QC lab readily available to test a charcuterie board for food safety. So, in short, resin cured in lab conditions and assessed by a QC lab is food-safe. Think about a pork meat. Pork is perfectly safe for consumption if heated to 145F, however, if the temperature inside is lower, then it could be a recipe for a disaster. The same applies to resin curing, lab controlled manufacturing results in food-safe cured resin, but DIY applicators cannot have their application process be 100% accurate and precise every time.
3. Type of food and other observations. Cured epoxy resin is a very tough and resistant material, however, it is not an adamantium . Alcohols, certain household chemicals can interfere with the structure of the cured epoxy. This also might affect the food safety of the material.
So where does that leave those who make charcuterie boards or other items that come into contact with food? Best to include a disclaimer note to say something along the lines of "decorative use only". Personally when I make charcuterie boards with resin I tend to make them out of black walnut wood and the resin is a decorative accent so the food can be placed on the wood part. If the board is 100% covered in resin we call it a serving tray.