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Food Grade Lubrication Guidelines Set

The European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG)is a non-profit organization with the objective of helping the European food industry implement EU directives relating to the hygienic food production. It cooperates with the National Sanitation Foundation in the USA to harmonize standards and guidelines.The EHEDG has established a set of guidelines relating to the manufacture of food-grade lubricants designed to be safe in the event of incidental food contact, similar to the NSF’s H1 designation.

Food production machinery is designed to minimize lubricant contact with food ingredients, but incidental contact cannot always be completely avoided. This potential for incidental contact necessitates a special category of H1 lubricants which are designed to be hygienically safe should contact occur. While allowing for safe hygiene, the lubricants must still perform their primary function, allowing the machinery to operate efficiently and guardingagainst wear.

Like lubricants in any other machinery application, food-grade lubricants must reduce friction, prevent metal-to-metal contact in gears and bearings, dissipate heat, remove debris from contact areas, and protect against corrosion. In order to perform these tasks, lubricants must incorporate the following properties:

  • Proper Viscosity -- This is arguably a lubricant’s most critical characteristicin preventing wear and must be specified for each individual application based on the clearance of parts, speed of rotation, and load on the gear or bearing.
  • Anti-ware --In addition to proper viscosity, additives in a lubricating oil can offer additional resistance to metal wear and protect against shock-loading in gear sets.
  • Corrosion Resistance -- The lubricant must retard corrosion of the metal parts that it lubricates
  • Oxidation Resistance -- All oils, regardless of origin, are subject to oxidation which can change characteristics of the oils, such as viscosity, reducing its ability to perform properly. Thus, oxidation of the oil must be retarded.
  • Resist Foaming and Release Air –Air entrainment and foam prevent a lubricant from functioning properly and the implosion of entrained air bubbles can severely damage metal parts, so the lubricating oil must be able to resist foaming and release entrained air.
  • Demulsibility and Emulsibility -- Depending upon the application, lubrication oils are designed either to release incidental water contamination so that it can be removed from the system, or surround the water in suspension

Despite concerns of some plant maintenance personnel, modern H1 lubricants formulated with ingredients approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and registered by the NSF are quite capable of performing their primary lubricating functions, while remaining safe for incidental food contact.  In fact, someactually perform better than older, non-H1 formulations.

As a premier one-stop industrial lubricant shop, the Industrial Lubricant Store (ILS) recognizes the need for specially formulated food-grade lubricants and offers newly branded food-grade oils that meet the key requirements of today’s food and beverage industry for lubrication quality and safety. Learn more about our full spectrum of ILS branded product offerings at today.

About the Author
Randy Renick
Randy Renick has a Bachelor's degree from LSU. He is an STLE Certified Lubrication Specialist and has a 29 year work history in Industrial Lubrication. He is currently a Lubricant Consultant at The Industrial Lubricant Store.

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