Greases approved for food contact help manufacturers in situations where their products may come into contact with lubricants during the processing stages.
Germany-based Klüber Lubrication has introduced Klübersynth UH1 14-151 and Klübersynth UH1 14-222 to the market. These are synthetic lubricating greases authorised in accordance with generally accepted international standards, called USDA-H1, for use in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, the company said in a press release.
The USDA-H1, a standard used by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and mostly accepted in Europe, designates lubricants approved for use on all friction points where there may be an incidental, technically unavoidable contact between the lubricant and the food product.
By comparison H2 designated lubricants are nonfood-grade lubricants used on equipment and machine parts in locations where there is no possibility of contact. H3 lubricants are food-grade lubricants, typically edible oils, used to prevent rust on such equipment as hooks and trolleys.
Klüber said its H1 standard Klübersynth UH1 14-151 and UH1 14-222 exhibit good anti-wear properties, water resistance and corrosion protection. The lubricants also display high aging and oxidation stability, the company claimed.
The products are intended to be used for all lubrication points, including rolling and sliding bearings, lifting cylinders, joints, guide bars and cams. The Klübersynth UH1 14-222 is also available in the company's Klübermatic FG dispensing unit.
Food grade lubricants also have to stand up to the frequent cleansing and washing down of equipment required in the industry. Conventional hydraulic oils can be contaminated by water and detergents and will very quickly break down and become thick and sticky emulsions.
They must also be durable under the ever increasing production speeds demanded by modern plants. Lubricants used in the food-processing sector must also comply with food, hygiene and quality-related regulations, physiologically safe, neutral in taste and smell, and approved internationally.
Under EU law plants are prohibited from using lubricants that are contaminated or not food-safe. Lubricants also have to meet the requirements of the European hygiene standard for food processing machines, according to an article on the subject on Klüber's Internet site.
"In practice, many food inspection authorities nowadays refer to American standards when it comes to due diligence criteria in the food processing sector," the article noted.
The USDA issued lubricant approvals until 30 September 1998. As new hygiene laws started taking effect, and put the onus on manufacturers to ensure the safety of their products, the department ceased approving new food-grade lubricants.
To prevent a regulatory vacuum, lubricant and machine manufacturers along with the food-processing sector agreed in 1999 to propose the international standardisation (ISO) of food-grade lubricants. The certification is done through the National Sanitation Foundation using the USDA guidelines.