making project food safe


howdy, i'm making serving trays for a caterer and need to make them food safe. what product...ie varnish, shallac, etc. should i use? i've looked at all the product label info and cant find the info i need...any suggestions?
thanks. lu.q
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This is an interesting topic. Essentially all finishes are "food safe" They should be allowed to cure at least 30 days before use. It cost a fair amount of money to comply with the FDA regulations in this area so very few manufacturers do so. Lead is no longer used as a catalytic drier in finishes. The issue is not so much food contact as actually ingesting the finish. This is where I part company with some nationally recognized experts in the field. To me, "food safe" should also mean capable of being ingested. That is not the meaning in current usage.
To answer your question, use a finish that will stand up to the various foods, and their attendant acidity, that might be placed on it. I suggest something that forms a film so residual food debris does not remain behind after washing. Varnish is not a bad choice. If you are really into it, you could even use an epoxy finish. I don't think lacquer and shellac will stand up to repeated usage, especially wipe downs.
Good Luck
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http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr 5.300
Still on the books, and still very readable.
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