The Importance of Food Grade Lubricants and How They Keep Us Safe

When it comes to industrial lubrication, it can often be the difference between premature machinery failure and an effective operating machine. In the world of industrial lubrication not all lubricants are created equal. Automotive bearing lubricants and industrial application lubricants vary. One of the most important and unique variations of lubrications comes in the form of food safe lubricants.

When packaging or handling food the potential of grease and oil leaks would cause a concern if traditional lubricants were used. With food grade lubricants, over lubrication, a spill during maintenance or a leak will not compromise the food or beverage product. Food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies should continually implement the highest quality non toxic food grade lubricants to ensure the safety of their products for consumers.

Challenges constantly face lubricant marketers, equipment designers and lubricant formulation engineers as they strive to keep consumers safe in case of an accidental contamination. Lubricants used in the food processing industry have strict requirements and performance expectations that are understandably stricter than your normal industrial lubricants. There are currently three categories of food grade lubricants, these categories are broken down into H1, H2 and H3 lubricants.

These food grade designations categories were originally created by the United States Department of Agriculture. The H1 category of food lubricants focuses on food-processing environments where an incidental food contamination is possible. The H2 category focuses on food grade lubricants that are used specifically on equipment and machine related parts in areas where the possibility of contact is limited. The final category is the H3 category which is associated with food grade lubricants that are edible oils. These oils are used to prevent corrosion on trolleys, hooks and similar equipment.

If you still are not convinced of the importance of food safe lubricants here are some stories of how neglecting to use the proper lubricants can come back to hurt you. In 1998 Smithfield Foods recalled 490,000 pounds of smoked boneless hams due to contamination. The food was contaminated by non food grade gear lube and was reported when customers started reporting a foul taste and a burning in the throat from eating the contaminated ham. Another case occurred in 2000 when 86,000 pounds of deli meats were recalled due to non food grade lubrication contamination. These consumers reported an odd odor and flavor in the meat. A few people also said they experienced temporary intestinal problems. After citing these accidents you can see the importance of using food safe lubricants to protect your products and company image.