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How oil is used within the food industry

When you think of oil and food, you might at first consider foods that contain oil. However oil means so much more in terms of food production than that. Oil is widely used in food production as a lubricant, ensuring the smooth, effect running of equipment and greasing the wheels of the food processing industry.

Why we need food grade lubricants

Food grade lubricants are used for the same purposes as other types of lubricant product. They provide protection for costly equipment against wear and tear, oxidation, friction, corrosion, including where excessive heat or pressure exists.

Yet, food production is arguably the one industrial operation where the specific lubricant used is critical. This is because any oil product used in food processing must be food safe. Health and safety are crucial issues for food and beverage manufacturers, and reducing contamination is just as important in food production as it is in an operating theatre.

In real life, however, lubricant leakages do inevitably sometimes occur. When this happens, the lubricant used cannot differentiate between something that is or is not a foodstuff. In the food processing industry, selecting just the right lubricant is therefore of utmost importance.

As with any lubricant used in a food processing plant, or other environment concerned with the production of food and drink, it must be food safe. This is why food grade lubricants exist.

When food is ultimately going to be sold to the public – whether that is directly or via a supermarket or restaurant – the selection of lubricant could literally be matter of life and death, or at least a matter of the potential for illness.

Food safe certification

This explains the availability of a wide range of food safe lubricants, tailor made for use in food and beverage production. As legislation exists for the protection of the public, the best quality food safe lubricants will be appropriately certified. This is because there is always a chance, however small, of the lubricant coming into contact with the food or drinks that are being made.

Typically, such food grade lubricant products will be NSF certified, and they will also be NSF registered for use during food processing. NSF International is concerned with the quality and safety of food in the UK as well as overseas. An independent organisation, it is tasked with the protection of human health, and one of its key roles is to provide certification and testing.

Food specific lubrication

Lubricants that are specially designed for use in food production have other advantages for their users too. They may be tailor made for use at very high temperatures, like those that often exist within food and drink processing or packaging facilities. There are also food safe lubricants that are specifically designed to oil the kind of gear, bearing, hydraulic and compressor systems often used for food production, increasing efficiency and ensuring smooth processing.

Food grade oils are therefore not only required for health and safety reasons. The use of such formulas can also ensure that the business of food production runs as seamlessly and effectively as possible.

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