Almost everyone can tell that food-grade ink works on food products, but most are not aware how exactly. Well, if you want to know more, just read further.

Applications of Food-Grade Ink

Food-grade ink is either used on the packaging or on the food itself. Examples of food items in which this type of industrial ink is ideal for include biscuits, cereals, candies, cookies, granola bars, pasta, pie crusts, rice cakes, and waffles. Also, food-grade ink is great for bakery products, often on the material surface, such as bagels, buns, toasts, and tortillas. Of course, there are more applications depending on the type of industrial food-grade ink, but these have to be non-toxic.

Purchasing Food-Grade Ink

Like most industrial ink, food-grade ink is readily available in most locations. Try purchasing either in your local area or online. In case you are unable to find any, Needham sells ink that is food grade, so try it out.

Contents of Food-Grade Ink

Most food-grade inks have at least a food-grade dye as well as a food-grade glycol, 1,2-propanediol for example. These two are necessary for direct printing on the substrate of different food. As said before, the food-grade ink should contain no toxic compounds or metals. The water content should only be around 20-35 percent by weight.

Another crucial component is glycerin, which serves as a co-solvent. It is present in most colored industrial ink fluids. Also, dyes are added in the food-grade ink for coloring, regardless of whether it is natural or synthetic. Lastly, dyes should either be water-soluble or act as a co-solvent.

In-Depth Specs

Synthetic dyes usually come in color names plus a number, such as FD&C Red #40. As for natural dyes, these include beet extract, chlorophyll extract, grape skin extract, vegetable juices, and so on. Often, a minimum of 85 percent by weight for dye should be present in the industrial food-grade ink. Lastly, the ink often contains antioxidants, buffering agents, surface tension modifiers, and thickening agents, as well as a small amount of ethanol or isopropanol.


There are many applications of industrial food-grade ink, either on the packaging or on the food itself. Manufacturers consider a lot of factors for the content, but the most important is that these are non-toxic and would adhere to the surface of the food itself.