You Know Styrene – A resource for consumers, employees and communities

Health and Safety: Consumers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared polystyrene food packaging as safe.
Styrene is Safe

Whether naturally occurring in foods and beverages such as strawberries, coffee beans or cinnamon, or produced synthetically, most people encounter styrene as a part of their daily lives, though in small amounts. Scientific studies have shown that the small amounts of styrene consumers may be exposed to are not harmful; studies have also shown that, should exposure occur, styrene does not stay in the body for long and is rapidly metabolized and excreted. Source[1]

In a comprehensive 2002 review of the potential health impacts of styrene, a 12-member international expert panel convened by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis concluded there was no health risk to the general public from exposure to styrene. Sources[2] Since 2002, other expert groups have reached similar conclusions regarding cancer, including the European Union, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Danish EPA.

Food Service

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates food safety and the safety of food contact packaging, has cleared polystyrene food packaging as safe for both hot and cold food and drink. Source[3]

In addition, tests and studies have repeatedly shown that the trace amounts of styrene which may migrate into food or drink from polystyrene containers or other packaging is minimal and does not have an adverse impact on consumers’ health. Source[5]

For more information about the safety of polystyrene foodservice materials, visit here.



Polystyrene foam food packaging is an important factor in maintaining good public hygiene for grocers and consumers. Meat, poultry and seafood are commonly packaged on foam trays to keep liquids and potentially harmful bacteria from leaking onto display surfaces and consumers’ hands.