5 Things to Know About Food Grade Lubricants


Commercial food preparers use machinery that must work under extreme conditions, and all of this machinery needs to be protected against wear by high quality lubricants. These lubricants must be deemed food safe before they can be sold under the registration of H1. H1 food-safe lubricants are considered safe for incidental food contact.

1) Food Grade Lubricants Aren’t Meant For Eating

It’s important to remember that H1 lubricants are deemed safe for incidental food contact. Many food grade lubricants are greases with a lot of cling and are unlikely to come in contact with food. However, industrial ovens often have to use a sprayed oil to keep chains moving smoothly. While these sprays are installed in ways that make food contact extremely unlikely, the risk of incidental food contact is possible.

2) Food Grade Lubricants Have A High Water Tolerance

The cleaning requirements in facilities that make food are extreme. To make sure that the food in your grocery store is safe, industrial kitchens must undergo cleaning procedures that ay involve very specific cleaners, a great deal of hot water and steam. Food grade lubricants, therefore, must have a very high ability to resist water as well as an extremely high heat tolerance.

3) Food Grade Lubricants Have A High Heat Tolerance

The oils used to keep a machine such as an industrial bread oven working smoothly have to fully coat all of the mechanism of the oven. This oil has to cling to all of the moving parts and be free of any product that will form deposits and damage the mechanism. While this lubricant is formulated to cling and not to drip, there is really no way to completely stop the risk of drip contamination. While this lubricant doesn’t belong in food, it is deemed food safe.

4) Food Grade Lubricants Often Have To Be Reformulated

The label of what is “food safe” can often change as the science around lubricant additives advances. Professionals in the lubrication industry are always monitoring products deemed unsafe by the FDA to make sure that their food quality greases and oils are within compliance. The listing of H1 additives is always under review and product developers are always reviewing the list of approved additives to confirm that their grease is still safe for food incidental contact.

5) Food Grade Lubricants Can Be Extremely Thick

The application process for putting grease into the gears of industrial food preparation equipment can be quite challenging and often requires special tools because food grade grease is often extremely thick. A word that can cause some confusion is rheometry. Rheometric readings measure the rate of flow of a product that can move in liquid form. For example, olive oil moves easily , while peanut butter moves slowly. Food grade grease can sometimes be thicker than peanut butter and has an extremely high heat and water tolerance.

If you are concerned about ingesting food grade lubricants, remember that everything that mixes into a food grade lubricating oil or grease must be considered safe for incidental food content. These lubricants are not considered to be edible, but they are not toxic as greases and oils that are used in non food situations, such as under the hood of your car or in a standard manufacturing facility.

Final Thoughts

The food making industry is under stringent requirements when it comes to cleanliness, product storage and lubricant use and contact in their facilities. Be aware that designers and lubricant technicians are working hard to stay within regulation guidelines for what products can be included in any lubricants that may come into contact with your food.

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