LUBRICANTS AND THE FOOD INDUSTRY
Although more synonymous with the industrial industry, lubricants also have their place in the food industry; yes, the food industry. It’s not uncommon for our minds to associate lubricants with a can of WD-40, used to loosen metal connections and to prevent rusting. However, certain lubricants are specifically designed with the food industry in mind, like H1, H2, and H3 lubricants. If you’re not familiar with these lubricants, they are intended for the food industry, and in some cases, can be used where some incidental food contact might occur. The USDA has approved all three of these lubricants, but there are distinct differences between them.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FOOD LUBRICANTS
So, what is the difference between an H1 lubricant and an H2 lubricant? Well, H1-certified lubricants can come in contact with food and poses minimal threat to consumers, if consumed. H1-certified lubricants act as a protective shield, preventing rust while also keeping machine parts adequately greased, which, in turn, extends the life of the equipment. Conversely, H2-certified lubricants should only be used on nonfood surfaces; these lubricants are ideal for production lines, oven chains, compressors, hydraulic systems, and other types of machines commonly found in commercial kitchens.
Whether you operate in the food or beverage space, safety should be paramount; you should carefully choose the right lubricant that can provide maximum protection for your equipment without placing consumers in harm’s way. That being said, the right lubricants can provide the following
- Extend the life of the equipment
- Ability to pass compliance audits
- Improved productivity
LARGE-SCALE FOOD PROCESSING
If you’re not familiar with large-scale food processing, there is a plurality of machines that all work collectively to process food including conveyor belts, pumps, mixers, tanks, and hoses. And similar to equipment found in industrial businesses, these parts must be properly lubricated in order to avoid breakdowns and malfunctions. After all, if your equipment is not operating properly, it impedes your ability to produce foods, which, in turn, significantly disrupts your ability to generate revenue.
HOW DO LUBRICANTS WORK?
What should you be looking for in a high-quality lubricant? First, you want to decide whether or not the lubricant will be used in close proximity of food; H1-certified lubricants are ideal for surfaces that will come into contact with food. On the other hand, H2-certified lubricants are ideal for surfaces where food contact is either non-existent or minimal. With that being said, the best lubricant is one that protects surfaces from heat and deposits as well as friction, corrosion, and wear. Additionally, the lubricant should provide oxidation stability, excellent thermal ability, and hydrolytic stability.
PROTECTING THE CONSUMER
Also, all food-lubricants should be resistant to degradation, especially when they come contact with food, process chemicals, and water. Unlike the industrial industry, the food industry poses unique challenges and obstacles that must be overcome when it comes to lubrication, but these requirements ensures that consumer safety is at the forefront of all decisions.
Although we have discussed H1 and H2 lubricants, there is a third option, H3 lubricants. H3 lubricants are marketed as edible oil, meaning that they are safe to use around food. Obviously, this is a lot of information to take in, which is why you’re encouraged to visit nsf.org, an online resource containing information relative to food-grade lubricants. All lubricants are subcategorized, based on H1, H2, and H3 compliance standards.
When it comes to choosing a food-grade lubricant, it is important that you make an informed decision. After all, the health and well being of consumers, as well as your commercial equipment, is at stake.