Spray paint is a super convenient and quick way to decorate a wide variety of crafts and other projects but if you are looking to paint something that might come into direct contact with food you might have some understandable concerns.
Is spray paint food safe?
The vast majority of spray paint is NOT food safe and should not be used to paint surfaces that will make direct contact with food such as plates, bowls, cups, or eating utensils. Spray painted surfaces can be made food safe, however, by sealing the paint in a food-safe coating such as natural resin-based shellac or natural wax. Avoid spray paint completely by using natural, food-safe oil finished on wood projects.
Read on to learn more about why food safety is so important, which products to avoid, and what can work for your project!
Does food-safe spray paint exist?
When it comes to painting items that will come into contact with food, you might be wondering if there are food-safe spray paints available.
Does food safe paint exist?
While some paints are relatively safe and claim to be food-safe, there are no true ‘food-safe’ spray paints available on the market.
Most spray paints are either water-based or oil-based. Water-based spray paints are generally considered more eco-friendly and contain fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Oil-based spray paints, on the other hand, can emit higher levels of VOCs and may not be as friendly to the environment. However, neither type can be definitively considered food safe.
Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any spray paints for direct contact with food items.
Instead of relying on spray paints, you may consider food-safe alternatives, such as food-grade silicone or coatings specifically designed for use in food-contact applications. These options are more likely to be water-resistant, food-safe, and free of harmful chemicals.
Food-safe Labels and Certifications
When looking for spray paint that is safe for use on food containers or utensils, it is essential to understand the different food-safe labels and certifications.
There are several regulations and standards set by the FDA to ensure the safety of materials used in food contact applications.
FDA Title 21, Section 175.300
One important regulation is the FDA Title 21, Section 175.300. This section specifies the requirements for coatings and resins that come into contact with food. When you look at the product label, make sure it meets the criteria set by this regulation.
Some key factors to consider are:
- The coating’s migration limits: The coating should not release any harmful substances into the food at levels beyond the specified safe limits.
- The types of food: The regulation describes the types of food that the coating is deemed safe for, such as fatty, aqueous, or acidic food.
- Temperature and duration of contact: The regulation also outlines the acceptable contact temperatures and durations. Make sure the coating is suitable for the intended application.
FDA Title 21, Section 174
Another pertinent regulation is the FDA Title 21, Section 174, which addresses the prerequisites for components used in the production of food contact coatings and resins.
Be aware of the following aspects:
- Direct food additives: Section 174 specifies the list of direct food additives permitted in the formulation of food contact coatings. Ensure that the ingredients in the spray paint comply with the regulations.
- Indirect food additives: This section also covers indirect food additives, substances that may unintentionally come into contact with food through packaging materials or manufacturing surfaces. Make sure the spray paint’s ingredients do not pose any risk of migration into your food products.
Potential health and safety risks of spray paint
There are two BIG potential problems with using spray paint on surfaces that will make contact with food and they aren’t hard to guess:
- Chemicals leeching into food or drink
- Paint chipping or wearing off
Chemicals leeching into food or drink
Spray paint can contain toxic chemicals that may leech into your food or drink if you use spray-painted utensils or containers.
When these substances are ingested, they can potentially cause a range of health problems, such as headaches, vomiting, and more severe issues depending on the chemistry of the specific paint.
Paint chipping or wearing off
Another risk associated with spray-painted food containers or utensils is the potential for the paint to chip or wear off over time. As the paint breaks down, it can mix with your food or drink, leading to the potential ingestion of toxic particles.
To minimize this risk, consider using protective coatings or food-safe paint options if you absolutely must paint something that will come into contact with your food or drink.
In most cases, it might be best to seek alternatives when it comes to using spray paint on items that will come into contact with food, beverages or the environment.
Food-safe paints and varnishes and other options!
While spray paint itself may not be food-safe, there are several sealants and other food-safe products available that can be used as food safe spray paint sealers. In this section, we’ll explore some options, such as shellac, varnishes, and sealants, as well as milk paint, chalk paint, and real milk paint.
This natural resin product creates a protective, non-toxic, and food-safe barrier. Use clear or amber shellac to create a beautiful finish on your painted surface while keeping it safe during contact with food.
Choose a food-safe varnish to get the same protection as shellac. Read the product label to ensure the varnish is non-toxic and suitable for use on surfaces that come into contact with food. Note that these products MUST CURE completely before making contact with food.
Natural waxes like beeswax or carnauba wax are standard finishes for wood projects because they are water-resistant and food safe.
Natural oils like mineral oil, tung oil, linseed oil, or walnut oil are commonly used to seal and protect wood finished and are considered food safe (other than potential allergies!)
Remember to always follow the product instructions and allow for proper drying time before placing food on the treated surface.
Safer paints that might work for your project
At this point you have probably given up on using paint for your project, but there are a few possible alternatives that MIGHT work, depending on the project.
These paints are all vastly safer than typical spray paint but still aren’t ideal for food surfaces that might need to be wiped or washed frequently.
If you decide to use one of these paints, we still recommend sealing it for durability!
Milk paint is a popular choice for a more eco-friendly and non-toxic alternative to traditional paint. Made from just milk protein, lime, and pigment, milk paint is safe for use on surfaces that come into contact with food.
Ensure to choose a food-safe sealant to go over the top of the milk paint to provide a protective layer and keep the paint from chipping or peeling.
Chalk paint, known for its matte finish and easy application on various surfaces, is another option to consider.
Select a non-toxic, water-based version, and always apply a food-safe sealant on top to ensure that the chalk paint surface remains safe for contact with food.
Real Milk Paint
Real milk paint is a powder that you mix with water, made from natural ingredients such as milk protein, lime, and earth pigments. This eco-friendly, non-toxic paint is ideal for kitchen surfaces and furniture pieces that may come into contact with food.
As with the other paints mentioned, use a food-safe sealant on top of the real milk paint for added protection.
Is it okay to paint the outside of a bowl or glass?
Now, this is really a whole different topic here because the outside of a bowl or glass is highly unlikely to actually make contact with the food that you plan to eat.
Really it just comes down to one major question – are you actually going to use the bowl or glass to eat or drink out of?
If you are just planning to use it for decoration, use whatever kind of paint that you want!
If you plan to use the plate, bowl, or glass to eat or drink out of, you will need to be more careful.
In most cases, it is safe to paint the outside of a bowl or glass, but special care should be taken not to paint over the edge of the glass where your lips will make contact. In general, painted bowls or glasses won’t hold up well to dishwashers or heavy scrubbing, so special care should be taken to avoid damaging your work after it is complete.
First of all, you need to choose a paint specifically designed for use on glass and ceramics. These paints are non-toxic and food-safe when used correctly. Look for products labeled as “non-toxic” and “food-safe” to ensure you’re using a safe option. Keep in mind that not all paints are suitable for this purpose, and using inappropriate materials could potentially lead to toxic substances leaching into your food or drink.
Before you start painting, thoroughly clean the surface of the glass or bowl to remove any dirt, grease, or debris. This will help the paint adhere properly and create a smooth finish. You should also use painter’s tape to protect the areas you don’t want to be painted, especially the rim or inner surface that comes into direct contact with food or beverages.
When applying the paint, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. This usually involves applying thin, even layers with a brush or sponge. Allow the paint to dry completely between coats to avoid streaks or uneven coverage. It’s also a good idea to use a clear sealant or protective coating once the paint has dried to prolong the lifespan of your artwork and keep it safe from scratches or wear.
Finally, make sure to only paint the exterior of the bowl or glass. This will minimize any risk of the paint coming into contact with food or drink and ensure that your decorative touch remains both beautiful and safe.
Is it safe to drink out of a spray-painted cup?
It is not safe to eat or drink from surfaces that have been spray painted, as the harmful chemicals are still present on the surface. Ingesting these chemicals can cause health problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headaches, and more.
Can you spray paint a food tray?
Spray painting a food tray is not recommended as the paint may not be food safe and could potentially be harmful if ingested.
If you want to paint a tray that will come in contact with food, it is recommended to use food-safe paint or to use a non-toxic sealer on top of the paint to prevent any potential health risks.
Can I spray paint my fruit bowl?
It is okay to spray paint a fruit bowl on the outside but avoid painting the inside of a fruit bowl on the surface that will make contact with the fruit itself to avoid contamination.
How toxic is dry spray paint?
Dry spray paint is generally considered non-toxic but it must be fully cured in order to meet specified safety claims. In general, even dry spray paint will not be suitable for food contact surfaces.