Food-safe paper offers an almost endless array of ways to spruce up your tabletop presentation while ensuring your food only comes into contact with approved surfaces. But with those options comes an abundance of nuance.
Have you ever thought about which side of food-safe paper has designs printed on it and why? What about the difference between grease-resistant and wax-lined paper? Did you know that paper comes in different weights?
Don’t shred your brain trying to navigate all the options out there. We’re going to cover the most common types of food-safe paper used for wrapping sandwiches and lining foodservice baskets so you don’t have to dig for it.
Pictured: Sports Themed Waxed Paper and Polypropylene Basket
The Most Common Types of Food-Safe Paper for Wrapping Sandwiches & Lining Baskets
Today’s foodservice landscape offers no shortage of opportunity to use food-safe paper for wrapping menu items or lining baskets and trays. The four most common types of paper used for these applications have their own qualities, use cases, and price points.
These attributes are important for foodservice operators to understand because without the right knowledge base, you could easily spend more money than necessary or inadvertently serve food that’s in contact with non-food-safe ink.
To be clear, all of these types of paper offer grease resistance out of necessity. Nearly everything we eat has some form of oil, whether it's naturally occurring or from added ingredients like butter, cooking oil, or sauces. For our purposes here, however, we're referring to grease-resistant paper as a specific type of paper defined by its manufacturing process, discussed below.
You can expect to find these four options when looking for sandwich wraps and tray liner paper:
- White or brown grease-resistant food-safe paper for sandwich wraps & basket liners
- Printed logos or designs on grease-resistant food-safe paper for sandwich wraps
- Waxed food-safe paper with printed logos or designs for sandwich wraps & basket liners
- Foil-lined and quilted food-safe paper for wrapping hot or messy sandwiches
White or Brown Grease-Resistant Food-Safe Paper for Sandwich Wraps & Basket Liners
Grease-resistant food-safe paper is either sprayed with a coating or has a grease-resistant material worked into the fiber pulp at the beginning of the manufacturing process. Regardless of the application method, these materials are specifically designed to make it difficult for grease to penetrate paper.
Greaseproof paper is different – the chemical makeup of this paper makes it nearly impossible for grease to get through. However, grease-resistant paper is effective at stopping grease from seeping through paper and onto your guests’ hands and clothes for minutes to hours depending on the paper.
It’s also porous enough to let out steam, which makes it a good option for hot sandwiches because they won’t get as soggy as they would in a less porous environment. Grease-resistant paper is also designed so that it retains its opaqueness when in contact with grease instead of turning transparent like normal paper does.
White and brown options are easy to find in grease-resistant paper, and offer a great economical solution for your food-safe paper needs. White paper gives you a sharp, clean look, while brown paper can support eco-friendly or artisanal brand positioning.
The absence of ink on this kind of paper makes it a great candidate for both basket liners and sandwich wraps because you don’t have worry about your food touching ink that’s not approved for food contact.
Printed Logos or Designs on Grease-Resistant Food-Safe Paper for Sandwich Wraps
If white or brown paper doesn’t fit your operation, you have plenty of options to use grease-resistant paper printed with logos and designs. Grease-resistant paper by itself is safe to use as a food contact surface. However, most ink used for printing on grease-resistant paper is not an approved food contact surface.
Food-safe inks do exist, but they’re so expensive that they’re rarely used. So, how can you serve food on grease-resistant paper if the ink is more than likely not approved to touch your food? There are plenty of workarounds.
First, most inks used on food-safe paper are approved for accidental/incidental food contact. This means that if food touches a small amount of ink, or if it comes in contact with ink for a short period of time, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, your guests probably won’t even notice it. But you do not want to use this kind of ink in a main food contact area.
Most paper is only printed on one side. If you’re wrapping a sandwich, all you have to do is use the side of the paper without the ink and you’re good to go. Also, if you’ve paid the extra money to get printed paper, you want people to see your selected logo or design, so it’s only natural to keep the ink on the outside of the sandwich anyway.
It’s not uncommon for grease-resistant paper with one side fully covered in a printed design to be mistaken for basket liners. But this kind of paper is decidedly not for basket liner use because there’s no barrier separating the food from the ink.
You can, however, use grease-resistant paper with logos or designs printed in the corners or around the perimeter of the paper as basket liners because the ink isn’t on the main food contact area. Overall, though, the grease-resistant barrier is only meant to keep grease from penetrating the paper, not to act as a barrier between ink and food. If you stick to using this kind of paper for sandwich wraps, you can sleep easy.
Pictured: 13" x 9" Rectangular Tray, 12" x 12" Food-Safe Hawaii Newsprint Waxed Liner
Waxed Food-Safe Paper with Printed Logos or Designs for Sandwich Wraps & Basket Liners
Food-safe waxed paper offers grease-resistant properties and acts as the food-safe barrier between ink and food. These qualities are missing from grease-resistant paper, making waxed paper one of the most highly-regarded options on the market for lining baskets and trays. Food-safe waxed paper is exactly what it sounds like: paper with a layer of food-safe wax applied to it.
Food-safe waxed paper:
- Is versatile because you can use it to line any basket and/or tray, creating operational efficiencies
- Lets you add custom logos or designs to any part of the paper
- Is food-safe, so you don't have worry about which part of the paper your food ends up touching
- Is available in heavy stock paper, carried by G.E.T., which lets you serve hearty meals fully confident that your paper will hold up for an entire table turn and then some
- Is a bit more expensive than grease-resistant, but is worth the investment considering the advantages
- The only thing it doesn’t do well is breathe, so it's not great for wrapping up hot sandwiches or other hot food that can get soggy
Overall, the assets that waxed paper can bring to your foodservice operation are definitely not something you want to overlook.
Foil-Lined & Quilted Food-Safe Paper for Wrapping Hot or Messy Sandwiches
Food-safe foil-lined paper is nearly greaseproof because it’s made from aluminum, which is a metal, and grease can’t penetrate metal.
This kind of paper is best used for keeping hot food hot, and messy food inside the wrap instead of on your guests’ hands or clothes. A Philly, chopped beef BBQ, or a chili cheese hot dog are good examples of menu items that would benefit from foil-lined wraps. However, this kind of paper is on the expensive side. If you’re serving sandwiches that would benefit from foil-lined paper, by all means invest in it to keep your guests happy.
Quilt paper is about as high-end as you can go when it comes to sandwich wrap paper, but it definitely has its place. It’s made from two sheets of paper with a layer of polyethylene sandwiched between the “quilt” seems, which helps seal in temperature. The pillow-y areas inside the quilt seems breathe exceptionally well, greatly increasing the amount of time a sandwich wrapped in this paper will stay crisp.
Quilt paper is ideal for C-stores or sandwiches prepared at commissaries but sold off-site to grocers or restaurateurs because it keeps ingredients fresh for a few days. However, if you’re serving made-to-order sandwiches like most restaurants do, you don’t need to spend the money on quilt paper.
Pictured: Grease-Resistant Double-Open Paper Bag Liner, Square Metal Basket, Metal Sauce Cups
How the Weight of Paper Can Affect Your Operation, Regardless of the Kind of Food-Safe Paper You’re Using
The kinds of paper we use in our daily lives have different weights, from napkins to tissue paper, printer paper, paper cups, etc., and food-safe paper is no different. Of course, the heavier the paper, the more expensive it is. Like with the options above, however, you don’t always need to go with the highest-end product unless it creates a tangible benefit for your foodservice operation.
You can use thin grease-resistant or waxed paper to serve bread, crackers, cookies, deviled eggs, any kind of lightweight food that’s fairly dry, and still create a great dining experience without springing for heavy paper.
On the other hand, if you’re serving a half-pound bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg, you’ll definitely want to use heavier paper. Otherwise, your paper could tear mid-meal creating an unpleasant presentation and a messier dining experience than what your guests may have originally expected. If you want the Cadillac of waxed paper, your local G.E.T. distributor will happily partner with you to help you find the best fit.
When your food-safe paper knowledge increases, so does your bottom line and guest satisfaction. The next time you’re looking for sandwich wrappers or tray and basket liners, first consider the menu items you’ll serve on them. Will they be greasy, saucy, dry, heavy, light, etc.? Then apply your mastery of food-safe sandwich wraps and basket/tray liners to acquire the absolute best product for your operation and guests. Now you’re on the way to creating an outstanding dining experience! If you want to take your knowledge one step further, check out "Foodservice Baskets & Paper Liners: How to Find the Perfect Pairing."