Food grade lubricant is the name given to any industrial lubricant that is considered safe for incidental contact with items that may be consumed by humans, as long as it does not exceed a certain concentration.
These items may include:
- Medicines and Supplements
- Animal feed
Food grade lubricant is used during the production process of these items, and is considered safe for only incidental consumption. Incidental contact is typically inadvertent and may occur through dripping, contact, or spillage. In order to be considered incidental, lubricants may not exceed more than 10 parts per million after contact.
Interflon Food Lube with MicPol® is an H1-rated food-grade lubricant that is used widely in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and animal feed production industries.
Food Lube is available in aerosol and bulk liquid formats. The aerosol is easy to use on the spot and can be attached to small, portable dispensers such as those made by Simalube by Simatec.
The bulk liquid is suitable for use with an automatic dispenser, which allow lubrication of chains without shutting down the assembly line.
Interflon produces a wide range of food-grade lubricants that are designed for every phase of production, including:
- gearboxes (G)
- hydraulic parts (H)
- low temperature (LT)
- high temperature (HT)
- extreme pressure rail (EPR)
- pneumatic applications (PN)
- high temperature grease (HTG)
- open gears (OG)
- heavy duty (HD)
- low speed (LS)
- high speed (HS)
- multi-purpose (MP)
- automatic lubrication (AL)
What is an H1 rating?
NSF International is an internationally-recognized resource for the classification of food grade lubricants. It is an independent body that has created certification standards for a variety of industrial products used in food manufacturing. American facilities that wish to ensure compliance with US laws should check labels to ensure that all lubricants are NSF-classified. Frequently, when uncertainty exists as to which classification is appropriate, manufacturers will opt to use an H1-rated lubricant to err on the side of safety.
This classification system exists to assure consumers that lubricant, food and drug manufacturers are all united in ensuring that the items they consumer are safe.
NSF issues three levels of classifications for food-grade (also called “food-safe”) lubricant:
This is typically what people mean when they say “food-grade lubricants”. Amounts in foodstuffs must not exceed 10 parts per million (0.001%). H1 lubricant formulations may only contain certain base stocks, additives and thickeners as specified by the FDA regulations given in 21 CFR 178.3750.
Additives in H1 must meet NSF additive (HX-1) requirements. They must also be tasteless, odorless, and colorless. All Interflon food-grade lubricants meet this qualification.
The H1 classification also carries responsibilities with regard to labeling. Labels must be:
clear and not misleading
contain the correct instructions for use
must be traceable to the manufacturer
must bear the NSF Registration Mark, the H1 category code, and a unique product registration number.
When reading labels, look for statements like the following:
“Ingredients meet FDA Regulation 178.3570” or “21 CFR 178.3570”
“NSF H1 Registered” or “Registered with NSF as an H1”
“Meets USDA 1998 Guidelines”
“Suitable for Use in the Food Industry”
These lubricants may only be used in situations where there is no possibility of contaminating food, beverages, or medicine. For example, the oil used in a forklift can be classed as H2. They must also contain no carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, mineral acids or intentionally heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury or selenium.
These lubricants are typically used to clean and prevent rust on hooks, trolleys and other such equipment. These must be composed of edible oils, like corn, cottonseed, soybean, or mineral oils.
When a product has been successfully registered as H1, registrants will receive a confirmation letter from the NSF which includes this paragraph:
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
The body of law that governs all food safety-related matters is the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This code states that plant managers must be diligent in maintaining records on lubricants used in manufacturing, and it also lays out regulations for the storage and handling of these lubricants. The CFR also dictates substances for incidental contact and the limitations for their use.
Food grade lubricants should always be stored in a separate area from non-food grade lubricants and waste oil.
They should be kept in their original container whenever possible. If they must be transferred to another container, for example for dispensing purposes, then that container should be clearly labeled and should not have been used to store non-food safe lubricants at any time.
Lubricant storage areas should always be kept neat and tidy. Lids should be replaced promptly after use. Labels should be visible and storage areas themselves should be clearly labeled to indicate that only H1-class lubricants may be stored there.
Lubricants that are registered with NSF International are reviewed against the requirements of 21 CFR Section 178.3570.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. The FSMA has given the Food and Drug Administration new authorities to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed.
The FSMA gives the FDA mandatory recall authority, as well as many other new authorities, in the first major change to food safety legislation since 1938. It is similar to the Food Safety Enhancement Act, which passed the House in 2009.
The new FSMA rules require that NSF food grade lubricants be stored separately from other, non-food MRO chemicals. Plus, stepped up training is required for employees working in food production.
Additional Best Practices
Never apply more lubricant than needed. See manufacturer’s guidelines for information.
Always immediately wipe off excess to avoid contamination.
A well-planned and thoroughly-documented lubrication schedule must be implemented for all equipment. Interflon recommends the use of a predictive maintenance or pragmatic maintenance schedule, which is more efficient than a calendar-based schedule and therefore results in greater savings. For more information on predictive maintenance, see “What Is Predictive Maintenance?”.
Links of Interest:
List of NSF International Nonfood Compounds Registration Codes