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Food grade lubrication
Lubricants, grease and oil, however are necessary components for the lubrication, transfer, power transmissions and corrosion protection of machinery, machine parts, equipment and instruments. Incidental contact between lubricants and food cannot always be fully excluded and may possibly result in contamination of the food product.
In all cases where product contact cannot be fully excluded, food grade lubricants should be used by the food manufacturer.
- check the label,
- check that the lubricant has been registered with NSF as H1 for incidental contact with food
- check the packaging
- check for contamination of the lubricant.
Excess lubricant should always be removed. Oily and greasy rags should be removed immediately. With the aid of a lubrication scheduling plan maintenance or production checks the lubrication points on a regular basis.
When the tag number of the lubrication point and the lubricant used are read with a barcode reader, the amount of lubricant used and the frequency can be monitored per lubrication point by the computer. A leakage of an oil circulation system can been detected in the plant and achieve the required immediate action.
As a result from using the wrong viscosity lubricant in a gear box it can be leaking oil. Thanks to the double seal the oil can not easily enter the product. A maintenance engineer should take immediate action. After consulting the gear box supplier and the lubricant specialist the correct viscosity food grade oil should be selected and the system changed out.
Although the lubricant is called food-grade, this does not mean that you can eat it. At the maximum allowable contamination levels prescribed by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), up to 10 parts per million of food grade mineral oil is considered acceptable in food. At this level there is no adverse influence on the food product. The FDA has a zero tolerance of non food grade oil contamination with food, so a food grade lubricant should always be used in the food production area. Where contamination is identified, regardless of whether the lubricant is food grade or not, the food product should be quarantined.
Physical or chemical substances, such as detergent or a disinfecting agent, may cause oxidation which is not conducive to good lubrication performance. During production, water can enter the lubricant. High pressure cleaning equipment is often a cause of loss of grease in the bearings and can cause premature wear.
Adapted filling equipment has an oil-water separation unit. The grease and oil is centrally dosed to the lubrication points of the filler. Improper filling, over-filling or over-packing is another possible cause of contamination.
The grease for the bearing in a can seamer should be a food-grade NLGI 2 grease. In a can seamer there is a risk that the inside of the can lid may come into contact with the grease from the bearing of the seamer. The lubricant in the upper turret of a can seamer should also be food grade, as it could leak from above into the open can entering the seamer.
During change over to food grade lubricants, be sure all non-food-grade lubricant is flushed or purged out, before filling with food-grade lubricant. If the system is not correctly flushed this will affect the performance of the food grade lubricant in use.
- In food manufacturing plants use only food-grade lubricants from a reputable supplier.
- Ensure the food grade lubricant you use is NSF H1 registered.
- Identify all Lubrication Contamination Control Points and take corrective measures
- Take care to avoid any lubricant contamination with food.
- Take care when using high pressure cleaning equipment when in close proximity to lubrication points
- Only a very small amount of food-grade lubricant is permitted by the US FDA to come in contact with the food product, so be alert to any visual spillage and check the process line regularly.