TECH TIP – Basics of Food Grade Lubricants
When we hear the term food, our minds go directly to something that we can consume safely. With food grade lubricants, this is not always the case. Typically, we would think that food grade lubricants would be used in the food and beverage world, but with recent regulations, the reach of these lubricants extends to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, container companies along with others.
In 1998, the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) took over as regulatory body from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NSF sets distinct publication of categories that lubricants made for manufacturing can fall into.
H1 Lubricants – When a customer asks for a food grade lubricant, this is where you should go to first. These lubricants are formulated to meet incidental food contact. Key word “incidental”. In the event that the lubricant does get into the product line, the maximum allowable contamination is 10 parts per million (ppm) or 0.001%. The NSF has an approved list of basestocks, additives and thickener usage listed in 21 CFR 178.3750. Basic requirements are that the lubricant must be nontoxic, odorless, colorless and tasteless.
H2 Lubricants – These lubricants should only be used in locations where there is no chance of contact with the process. Typically, these types of lubricants would be used for “under the conveyor” gearboxes and bearings. As customers become more educated, these lubricants are being consolidated to H1 lubricants to avoid any potential cross contamination of a H2 product into a H1 application. To note, these lubricants do not have a defined list of acceptable ingredients. The only regulations around H2 lubricants are that they not contain heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, selenium, or substances that are carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens or mineral acids.
H3 Lubricants – This category is known as safe for consumption. These lubricants are used to clean and prevent rusting of equipment such as hooks, trolleys and conveyors.
3H Lubricants – Pure white mineral oils. These are designed for direct food contact and found primarily in baking and meat processing facilities.
HT1 Lubricants – This category represents heat transfer fluids that are intended for incidental contact.
ISO 21469 validates the lubricant manufacturing process, label accuracy, formulation, and risk assessment to make sure the manufacture has identified all relevant hazards in the process. This certification gives validity to those taking the extra steps to adhere to quality procedures and good manufacturing practices. To achieve certification, an independent 3rd party auditor must conduct an assessment to ensure that all practices conforms to ISO hygiene requirements.
An interesting fact about ISO 21469 is that it is a voluntary standard. By having ISO 21469, a lubricant producer has achieved the highest accreditation on can have with food grade lubricant production.
Other accreditations include NZFSA C15, Kosher Pareve and Halal. Each come with their niche in the market and the application.
In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This change represented a switch of the gears from focusing on reacting to food contamination to preventing them. The Food Safety Modernization Act forces facilities to have a food safety plan that addresses preventative measures including lubricants and lubrication. If a facility is found to be in violation with FSMA regulations, strict fines can be imposed and even result in imprisonment.
Knowing the struggles your customer faces with rules and regulations and being able to assist them in making educated decisions will imbed you as an indispensable asset. We have so many options available you can search our Food Grade products here.