Today, the food industry faces constant scrutiny, placing the utmost importance on product safety.

Food Recalls: What does it mean?

Food recalls can lead to substantial financial losses and cause harm to brand reputation while posing an ongoing threat to food and beverage manufacturers. Using food-grade lubricants can help reduce contamination risk, safeguarding operations and brand reputation and mitigating potential penalties.

Food recalls are typically initiated in response to reports or complaints from producers, distributors, retailers, government agencies, or consumers. They may also stem from internal testing and audits conducted by food companies. Food product contamination can result from various factors, including microbial contamination by pathogenic microorganisms, inaccuracies in food labelling, foreign matter contamination, chemical and other contaminants, and undisclosed allergens.

Food recalls are classified based on the specific issue affecting the food product. These issues may include:

  • Microbial Contamination is caused by pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites, which can lead to foodborne illnesses.
  • Labelling Errors involve inaccuracies in ingredient lists, non-compliant food labelling, erroneous date markings, and other flaws related to food labelling, which can mislead consumers.
  • Foreign Matter Contamination results from foreign substances like glass, metal, or plastic in the food product, posing safety risks to consumers.
  • Chemical and Other Contaminants involving the presence of contaminants, such as machine oil, insecticides, cleaning products, or other chemicals, can compromise the safety and quality of the food.
  • Undisclosed Allergens arise from inaccurate labelling, improper packaging, or cross-contamination with allergenic substances.

Other contaminants include issues related to packaging faults, the presence of biotoxins, and various other factors. According to the Australia/New Zealand food standards, the main reasons for product recalls from 2012 to 2021 were undeclared allergens, microbial contamination, chemical contaminants and foreign matter, accounting for over 85% of product recalls. It's vital to note that the use of inappropriate lubricants or greases in food-related equipment can be a likely source of food contamination.

Some lubricants used on grills and churners often come into direct contact with food. Additional food and beverage contamination risks can arise from chain drips, oil leaks originating from gearbox seals, damaged hydraulic hoses, and other sources. In such situations, using industrial oils and greases lacking food-grade suitability is unsafe and must be avoided.

The Significance of Food Recall Accreditations

Preventing the potential risk of food contamination is a matter of utmost importance. Using certified lubricants that adhere to stringent quality standards is vital. In Australia, specific regulations addressing food-grade lubricants need to be improved currently. Therefore, using lubricants that have earned H1 certification through a reputable non-governmental organisation is highly recommended.

H1 lubricants, also known as incidental contact lubricants, are not expected to but may occasionally come into contact with food under normal use conditions. As per requirements established by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) H1 lubricants must comply with 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 178.3570 to be approved. This regulation establishes formulary requirements for greases and lubricants intended for use in food processing and handling applications where incidental contact may occur. The approval for H1 was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was until 1998 administered by them.

Certification is however not required, except in the US, some countries do not use third-party certifications, instead this is federally regulated. Although, with that stated, certification is generally recognized as a minimum requirement in the industry and therefore there is a need for recognized certification bodies. Up until 2008 the NSF had a monopoly on certifications since they had been appointed to take over the process by the USDA in 1999. In 2008 Ins Registration started in Europe and has since then been a recognized counterpart to the NSF, but this ended abruptly in the summer of 2019 when NSF acquired the UK-based organisation.

European Union legislation states that it is unfair practise to leave an entire market to one supplier the demand for a new certification body is clear. 2Probity is a Sweden-based company owned partly by AAA Certification and partly by Öbergs miljö och kvalitetskonsult. They have together more than 2000 clients in 13 countries and over 30 years of experience in working with ISO-standards.

  • The H1 classification is designated for lubricants appropriate for incidental contact with food or beverages in the production line, with a permissible limit of up to 10 parts per million. These are known as genuine food-grade or food-safe lubricants used to maintain machinery such as conveyor belts, gearboxes, chains, etc.

The Role of Food-Grade Lubricants in Preventing Food Recalls

Food-grade lubricants, particularly synthetic variants, perform as effectively as or even better than traditional oils and greases. They provide robust protection against wear and corrosion while enhancing overall plant safety. Consequently, manufacturing facilities can reduce maintenance expenses and enhance food safety standards. In today's context, the value of ensuring food safety cannot be overstated.

Food-grade lubricants typically boast an extended product lifespan and require less frequent replacement in machinery than conventional oils and greases. Furthermore, they provide better fluidity, oxidation resistance, and thermal stability, vital for the machinery's long life.

Food-grade lubricants are considered safe when accidentally ingested below the FDA-recommended maximum of 10 parts per million (ppm). Conversely, according to FDA guidelines, non-food grade lubricants have a strict zero-tolerance policy for contamination.

In today's highly competitive global economy, food and beverage producers face growing demands to ensure product safety, protect their brand reputation, and enhance production efficiency. Transitioning to food-grade lubricants represents a positive step in this direction.

Food Grade Lubricants at Pacific Lubrication Consultants

Pacific Lubrication Consultants specialises in providing high-performance, top-quality lubricants and lubrication programs tailored as cost-effective solutions for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical sectors. Our products are officially approved and certified and adhere to 2Probity, NSF, H1, Kosher, and Halal standards. These food-safe lubricants meet rigorous safety and hygiene auditing criteria and contribute to cost savings by mitigating problems such as food recalls.

Pacific Lubrication Consultants offers a variety of 2Probity, NSF, H1 certified lubricants and aerosols designed for application within the food and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries.

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