For any production to go well, lubrication is the heart and soul. It is used in all industries, especially in the food and drink industry. However, what seems to be an ongoing issue, is that some food and drink manufacturers have not considered the importance of food-grade lubrication for their production line and therefore haven’t made the changes from traditional oils and greases to food-grade lubricants.
For manufacturers that produce not only food and drink, but medication too, the safety of customers should be highly prioritised. They must follow high standards of sanitation and hygiene throughout the whole process of production from start to finish. It’s essential for them to use lubricants for machinery, to help minimise the friction and general wear and tear for: Motors, ovens, grinders, mixers, labelling, conveyors and packaging machines. But with it comes challenges.
Let’s think about food
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of using food-grade grease and what we’re currently putting in our bodies.
Cross-contaminating with Harmful Substances
The focus around lubrication has risen, which has come a long way from an often-overlooked contaminant in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point’s (HACCP) equipment risk assessment. Arguably due to people’s growing awareness around a healthy diet and becoming more aware of what we’re putting into our bodies, the need for controlling cross-contamination in the food industry is being pushed. Although complex machinery involved in today’s manufacturing side is designed for lubrication to have zero to little contact with food products, this cannot be guaranteed in every day’s operations.
A report was leaked in 2002, that revealed 86,000 pounds of sliced turkey accidentally came into contact with a non-food grade lubricant, which caused customers to suffer from intestinal discomfort from contaminated turkey. Another company was investigated after receiving complaints of a jar of baby food smelling of tar, revealing toxic mineral oil had contaminated the food. Not only putting customers at risk, this could seriously damage a manufacturer’s reputation, consumer trust, and profits.
Food manufacturers often face one of their biggest challenges, that being to control potential allergens. Fortunately, food grade lubrications ensure careful ingredient traceability and control under ISO 21469, therefore meaning that suppliers can confirm the absence or presence of common allergenic ingredients as well as being produced in hygienic conditions. Not using food grade lubrication cannot guarantee what potential substances food may or may not have come in contact with, putting customers’ health and safety at risk.
Allergic reactions have been the case because of products containing triphenyl phosphate, along with numerous of health effects in laboratory animals. Shockingly, triphenyl phosphate is a chemical that is also used as a plasticiser as well as a fire retardant — how does the consumption of this sound opposed to something derived from vegetable oils?
Tackling Harmful Microbes
There are many microbes out there that can bring harmful issues to humans, causing viruses, flu, bacteria. Fortunately, many food grade lubricant available now include special additives that prevent the microbes to grow. This is particularly important in machinery exposed to moisture and steam and is difficult to keep clean at all times.
Health and Safety concerns have increase which highlights the need for food-grade lubrication. There are lots of considerations to think about when making sure your business is using the right lubrication so assess your manufacturing process to classify which will be best for you — follow this guide to understand the differences between lubricants.