When you're working in an industry, you notice that lubricants applied to machines for their maintenance often leak. Regardless of how much effort you put to guard the oils against leakage, it still happens.
Although this is not an issue for many industries, the concern is significantly increased when it comes to food-related factories.
Cross-contamination of lubricants with food can affect its quality, making it unsafe for human consumption. This can create many problems for the business and harms both the consumer and the manufacturer. Therefore, it is critical to choose the right lubricants for the machines used throughout the processing of food.
Here is what you need to know about the kind of lubricants used in food industries.
What Are Food-Grade Lubricants?
Food-grade lubricants are special types of oils and greases that have almost the same functions as ordinary lubricants but are inactive, odorless, tasteless, and are certified internationally. Their design and chemical composition follow strict guidelines, and their production is governed by special rules to protect the food's purity, health, and safety.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not acceptable for food-grade lubricants to come in contact with food products. Depending upon this risk of contact with food, they are classified into three categories, namely H1, H2, and H3.
These are food-grade lubricants used in food processing where there is a little possibility of accidental food contact in small amounts. These lubricants are composed of approved base stocks, additives, and thickeners and are used in applications, such as above the processing line, where they might touch the food or its ingredients.
Many chemicals such as friction additives, water displacers, polymer modifiers, etc. effective in industrial-grade lubricants cannot be used in H1 designed oils and greases.
These lubricants are used in places where there is no possibility of the oil or grease or a lubricated surface to come in contact with the food products. For example, H2 lubricants are used on types of equipment that are below the processing line.
Any industrial lubricant can qualify as H2 lubricant as long as it does not include heavy metals, anti-wear additives, and compounds that are harmful such as carcinogens, mutagens, and mineral acids.
These types of lubricants are water-soluble and practically edible and are used to prevent rust and corrosion on equipment like meat hooks and trolleys.
Unique Lubrication Challenges in Food Industries
Food processing industries offer unique lubrication challenges. The types of equipment in these industries are not only exposed to the same level of stress and impact as seen in non-food sectors but are also subjected to other conditions such as constant water exposure, sanitizing agents, and cleaning chemicals all of which can potentially degrade the equipment and bearing. These unique requirements of the food industry often cause unexpected failures and shutdowns of the machines.
Therefore, it is of extreme importance that lubricants in food industries must offer the same level of protection to prevent friction, wear, and corrosion, along with properties to resist corrosion and degradation caused by water and cleaning agents. Unfortunately, many of the materials that possess these properties are not permissible in food industries due to safety issues.
How To Choose The Best Food-Grade Lubricant
To effectively lubricate the bearings and parts of machines in food industries, it is critical to look at limitations of the lubricant technology and operating conditions of the process. Before choosing the lubricant, make sure you take into account the following things:
- Operating environment and machine's mechanical conditions. These conditions will include bearing speed and size, temperature, water exposure, and vibration frequency, etc.
- What is the mean time between the bearing failure and how you can improve its life?
- Review detailed data of a grease/oil brand you are considering to choose.
Micro-Lube is an expert industrial lubricant supplier based in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. We have been supplying premium quality lubricants and products to our respective clients for decades. Visit our website to explore our quality food lubricants or contact us now for a free quote.