Food Grade Lubricant Selection

Darren J. Lesinski, Anderol Michael J. Raab, Anderol
Tags: food grade lubricants, bio-based lubricants

There are many things to think about when running a food-manufacturing business, and concern over lubricants should not be one of them. That is why it is essential for companies to use lubricants that not only exceed government standards, but also protect plant output without degrading food brand equity. In addition, the lubricant should ideally extend benefits to the bottom line, by reducing overhead costs and strengthening profitability.

Brand Protection

Food manufacturers who proactively select a NSF H-1 incidental contact food-grade lubricant as part of their business process meet the dual goals of worldwide compliance and protection of brand integrity. Taking this precautionary step by U.S. and global food companies has become the norm for achieving Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety standards and mitigating potential liability.

Specifically, the HACCP program focuses on preventing hazards causing food-borne illnesses by applying science-based controls such as analyzing potential food hazards, identifying critical control points, incorporating preventive measures, taking corrective actions, and effective record keeping.

These standards also permit more efficient and effective government oversight of the food manufacturing process, and help companies compete more effectively in the world market by reducing stringent barriers. However, the program does not come without challenges. The sheer size of the food industry and the diversity of products and processes make it difficult for agencies with limited resources to employ standardized guidelines.

That is why implementing a high-quality NSF H-1 type lubricant is a proactive step companies can take toward meeting HAACP guidelines, which can also be considered brand insurance and protection against a myriad of problems, including equipment failures and plant shut down. Once in place, the right high-quality lubricant can bring added benefits; including maximized return on investment (ROI), increased uptime and cost savings.

Meeting mandatory guidelines and USDA regulations has become the responsibility of quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) personnel throughout the meat, poultry, fruits, vegetable and other food-processing industries. HACCP guidelines require assessment at each contact point of the lubricant and critical equipment used for cleansing, sterilizing, canning, bottling, blending, chilling, frying, cutting, slicing and peeling - as a means to prevent contamination and protect brand quality.

It is in these instances where supplying a nontoxic, odorless and colorless food-grade lubricant to pumps, mixers, tanks, chain drives and conveyor belts, etc. safely supports brand quality without affecting productivity.

What to Look For

Once the vital issue of safety is addressed, fundamental maintenance management must be applied to protect equipment life and productivity levels, including the use of proper lubricants. Deciding whether to use a mineral or synthetic-based lubricant is the next step. Today’s trend is toward higher-performance synthetic and mineral oil products, which are playing a key role in maximizing equipment life, decreasing maintenance expenditures and even lessening the need for frequent lubrication of bearings and gear components.

Through extensive research and testing, modern synthetic hydrocarbon and mineral oil-based products with optimized additive package(s) have been designed to surpass FDA, 21 CFR 178.3570 and NSF International standards and are comparable in performance to nonfood-grade, premium lubricants. Alternatively, some mineral-based products have been known to cause residue buildup requiring frequent change-outs, which costs companies thousands of dollars in annual repair and replacement.

A plant’s operating conditions will generally determine whether to choose a high-performance synthetic food-grade over a mineral-based product. For example, synthetic food-grade greases must withstand moisture-heavy or steamy environments and high moisture conditions, stemming from the use of strong detergent and hot water wash-down activities, enabling machinery to perform at optimum levels.

Manufacturers processing under extreme temperatures, such as steam or refrigeration, find that food-grade synthetics are ideal for maintaining productivity.

Advanced technology lubricants, whether synthetic or mineral oils, add value to the maintenance process in a number of ways. Lubricated systems under high stress benefit from improved fluid stability, viscometric and film formation properties that tend to minimize the rate of oxidation and rate of component wear, leading to improved component longevity and machine operability.

A Solid Relationship Equals Success

Selection of an H-1 lubricant provider is just as important as selecting the correct lubricant. It is essential to choose a lubricant provider with a full range of products who also understands the customer’s business and maintenance obstacles. In the best of worlds, the provider will become an extension of a facility’s own maintenance department, providing education and technical support.

Additionally, it will have the expertise to support other value-added services such as plant surveys, validation of equipment, grade determination, product consolidation and oil analysis. Other features to consider include on-time delivery of products and services, accurate response to inquiries and the ability to create tailored solutions.

Employing the right food-grade lubricant ensures that food-processing companies can deliver safe consumable products while preserving food brand equity. While either a mineral-based or synthetic lubricant may be implemented, a plant’s specific applications must be considered before a proper decision can be made, including gear type, speed, drives and productivity levels.

Facilities requiring high-performance lubricants are finding synthetic products play a big role in preventing contamination and promoting brand integrity.

The key to this success is partnering with a lubricant provider that has a full range of products supported through a wide range of services, such as troubleshooting and oil analysis programs. Taken together, all these considerations will help solidify a food manufacturer’s product safety and enhance market success.

Read more on food-grade lubricants:

The Basics of Food-grade Lubricants

Food-grade Lubricants and Their Place in the HACCP Program

What You Need to Know About Food-grade Lubricants