How Lubricants and Test Instruments Help Prevent Contamination

Food Processing

 

Tools, equipment and worker hygiene are high-risk areas for contamination in food processing facilities. This is also true on the production line itself. In order to comply with government regulations, and to achieve the increasingly sought-after Global Food Safety Inititiative (GFSI) industry certification (SQF, BRC, FSSC 22000, IFS), food processing facilities are required to have a documented plan to ensure the equipment used in production is sanitary. Contamination comes in three forms: microbiological (bacteria), chemical (hazardous compounds, allergens) and physical (glass, moving parts). The products used on a food processing production line must meet the demands of the harsh environment, while minimizing the risk of contamination.

Food and beverage processors look for lubricants to resist degradation from unique environmental factors such as other food products, chemicals, dust, water or steam. Food-grade lubricants must exhibit a neutral behavior toward plastics and elastomers, and have the ability to dissolve sugars. Food health, environmental and safety regulations require that food-grade lubricants be physiologically inert, tasteless and odorless. Lubricants that have incidental contact with food may be subject to further testing.

Lubrication is critical to equipment performance, but it has the potential to be a chemical contaminant. When properly used, lubrication provides protection against wear, friction, corrosion and oxidation. The versatility of lubrication allows it to be compatible with rubber and other sealing materials, and in some cases it can provide a sealing effect. It can also dissipate heat and transfer power.

Test and measurement instruments are used to maintain the production line equipment, identify potential food safety or food quality issues that could result from production line inefficiencies or system failures. Thermal imaging provides the ability to constantly monitor the temperatures of the equipment and product
itself. This helps to safely achieve a high-quality product in compliance with food safety standards. In addition to thermal monitoring, instruments can gauge other environmental and equipment factors such as vibration and humidity. This combined function of test instruments supports a food processor’s food safety
and preventative maintenance programs. Predictive and preventative maintenance programs are accepted as "pre-requisite" programs among industry leaders and should be considered as part of any food processing plant’s standard practices.

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