The standards for good manufacturing practices, and the identification of hazards & potential sources of contamination, continue to become stricter for the food manufacturing industry, placing a premium on the safety of the consumer.
As a result, more and more food manufacturing companies understand and appreciate the need to use Food Grade Lubricants. While it seems fairly easy for companies to shift their purchase and usage away from industrial lubricants, a big challenge is the lack of knowledge of the end-users on what a legitimate Food Grade Lubricant is. Unscrupulous lubricant vendors with false claims of being ‘food grade’ also do not help the situation.
Simply put, a legitimate Food Grade Lubricant, including Greases, should be registered and certified by an impartial, non-profit UK organization named the National Sanitary Foundation, or NSF. NSF, for a nominal fee, undertakes the tasks of reviewing product formulations, performing product testings, conducting plant audits, and certifying the specific lubricants under their review. Any other claim as a Food Grade Lubricant without NSF’s approval may be deemed as illegitimate.
NSF also classifies ‘Food Grade Lubricants’ also in the following manner,
3H lubricants, also known as soluble or edible oils, are used to clean and prevent rust on hooks, trolleys and similar equipment.
H2 lubricants can be used in places where there is no possibility of contaminating the food. Because there is no risk of contamination, H2 lubricants don’t have a defined list of acceptable ingredients, but there ARE some substances it definitely cannot contain.
H1 lubricants, however, are meant for food processing environments where there is some possibility of incidental food contact and their formulations may only be composed of one or more approved base stocks, additives, and thickeners. At the very least, H1 rated lubricants should be used in food manufacturing processes.
For the verification and security of the food manufacturing firms, one may seek confirmation on a lubricants’ ‘food grade’ credibility by accessing NSF’s website listing à https://info.nsf.org/USDA/Listings.asp.
In addition, a registered NSF product should bear the symbol below, with a distinct registration number specific for each product.