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Food Grade Grease: What Is It and Why Do We Use It

It may be something you have never thought of, but what happens when grease that is used to lubricate a machine accidentally seeps into your food? It wasn’t until recently that regular greases and lubricants were used to manufacture and lube food processing equipment. The problem with this is that grease, oil and other lubricants can become food additives due to leaks in machinery, over lubrication and messy application.

What is Food Grade Grease and Where is it Used?

Food grade grease is a lubricant that is formulated using synthetics and delivers high performance without compromising safety or health. Food grade grease is used on the following:

  • High and slow speed chains
  • Caster races and bearings
  • Conveyor bearings
  • All types of ovens

Why is Food Grade Grease Used?

According to the FDA, approximately 48 million people in the U.S. (1 in 6) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from food borne diseases. The FDA believes this is preventable, which is why thy have instituted the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA main concern is focusing on foodborne illness and not only responding to it but preventing it. One way to do this is to take note of lubricants used to manufacture and maintain machinery, which up until recently, contained very toxic chemicals like Barium, Lithium and Black Graphite.

Is Food Grade Grease Safe?

Food Grade Greases that are certified with ISO 21469 are safe. The certification states that lubricants used in industries such as food will bear a certification mark on their packaging and labels. To receive this certification, ISO conducts a Hygiene Risk Assessment

on the chemical safety of the lubricant to see if the chemical is:

  • Non-toxic
  • Non-carcinogenic
  • Non-mutagenic
  • Ingression of dirt, dust or metals
  • Biological risk due to the formation of pathogens
  • Biologically active agents from long term storage, spoilage, etc.

In short, yes, food grade greases are safe, as long as they are certified by ISO. Companies that are ISO 21469 compliant, not certified, have self-evaluated themselves and have deemed themselves compliant. It’s important to know the difference, as certified companies have been audited by a third party, while compliant companies have done a self-evaluation, and may have taken liberties.

What Does This Mean to Me?

When having your machinery maintenance or serviced, be sure to ask the technician if they are using food grade grease. Ensure the technician is not messy or does not over-lubricate your machinery, as this can cause a greasy mess that will get into your food. Here at Stratton Sales we only use food grade grease and lubricants and ensure that our technicians are always properly trained and knowledgeable.