Why food-grade lubricants on machinery are essential for this key SA sector

02 September 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915787

Why food-grade lubricants on machinery are essential for this key SA sector

ACCORDING to Statistics South Africa’s 2018 manufacturing production and sales report, manufacturing is South Africa’s fourth largest industry and contributes 14% of the country’s gross domestic product. The food and beverages division is the biggest portion of the industry, contributing 25% of total manufacturing activity.

This high economic value means that the food and beverage manufacturing industry needs to be especially intentional about using high-quality products for the running and maintenance of its equipment.

That’s according to Lubrication experts Lubrication Engineers (LE) South Africa, which believes one way to keep a food production environment safe is to use food-grade lubricants on machinery that could have incidental contact with food.

To this end, they have a range of synthetic H1 lubricants. Lubricants used in the food industry are classified as either H1, H2 or H3.

Managing Director Colin Ford explained that H1 lubricants are for incidental contact with food, H2 are common industrial lubricants and H3 lubricants are used in applications where there is constant contact with food.

“If non-H1 lubricants are used above the food line and the lubricant drops into the production, it can cause the entire batch to be scrapped. This can be due to coloration (such as a dark oil drop into a white bread dough) or toxicity.”

He said any piece of machinery that is above a food processing line and requires a lubricant should be lubricated with an H1 lubricant.

Synthetic H1 lubricants usually have a much higher viscosity index than mineral lubricants. This allows them to operate in a wider temperature range.

According to Ford, using synthetic H1 lubricants in a food processing plant assures safety, even in instances of incidental food contact, while gearboxes can still be properly lubricated in extremely cold or extremely hot conditions, such as refrigerators or ovens.

H1 products have to be non-toxic and either clear, white or a light beige in colour. They also need to withstand the usual demands of lubrication in a plant, as well as lots of washing.

“LE’s H1 products are able to do this, due to our exclusive Quinplex additive, which is a tacifier that keeps the lubricant in place, even during high pressure steam cleaning.”

Ford said all food grade lubricants should have a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International certification. He added that LE had identified the importance of catering to a range of requirements for South Africa’s food industry, and LE’s lubricants also have Halaal and Kosher certification.

“In addition to certifications, clients should be asking about the technical performance of a lubricant, such as its water, temperature and wear resistance. It’s no use using an H1 lubricant just because it is H1 if it does not do the job well. LE’s lubricants outperform most other lubricants in this sector, because they can do all of the above.”

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