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How can Food Grade Lubricants help mitigate Food Recalls

Food recalls – What is it?

In today’s world, the food industry is under constant scrutiny, and product safety is of utmost importance. Food recalls, which can result in significant financial losses & damage to brand reputation, are a constant threat to food and beverage manufacturers. Utilizing lubricants for equipment that is appropriate for use with food may lower the danger of contamination and, as a result, safeguard operations, brand reputation, and penalties.

Recalled food is a result of a report or complaint from producers, distributors, retailers, the government, or customers. It might also come from internal testing and auditing conducted by a food company. Contamination of food products can occur through a variety of means, including microbial contamination from pathogenic microorganisms, inaccuracies in food labeling, foreign matter contamination, chemical and other contaminants, and undisclosed allergens.

Recalls are categorised based on the issue with the food. These issues may consist of:

  • Microbial – Contamination caused by pathogenic microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
  • Labelling – Inaccurate ingredient lists, non-compliant labelling, erroneous date markings, and other flaws in food labelling
  • Foreign Matter – Contamination from foreign substances, such as glass, metal, or plastic materials
  • Chemical/Other contaminants – Contaminants like machine oil, insecticides, and cleaning products.
  • Undisclosed Allergens – As a result of inaccurate labelling, improper packaging, or product contamination with an allergy

Other contaminants include packaging faults, biotoxins, and others. According to the Australia/New Zealand Food Standards, undeclared allergens, chemicals, microbial contamination, and foreign matter accounted for more than 85% of product recalls between 2012 and 2021. The use of lubricants or greases not appropriate for use with food can be a possible source of food contamination.

Some lubricants, such as the ones used on grills, and churners frequently come into direct contact with food. Food and drink contamination can also result from chain drips, oil leaks from gearbox seals, broken hydraulic hoses, and more. In these circumstances, it is unsafe to use industrial oils and greases that are not food-grade.


Food Recall Accreditations – Why is it important?

To avoid the risk of food contamination, it is essential to use lubricants that are certified and meet high-quality standards. As there is no regulation in Australia that expressly addresses food-grade lubricants, it is best practice to use lubricants that have been certified under the standards created by NSF International, a non-governmental organisation with headquarters in the US.

The NSF offers three categories of registration for food-grade lubricants: H1, H2, and 3H.

The H1 classification is for lubricants that are suitable for incidental contact with foods or beverages in the production line up to 10 parts per million. They are considered the “true” food grade or food-safe lubricants.  They are used to lubricate machinery like conveyor belts, gearboxes,  chains, etc; the H2 classification is for lubricants used in areas where there is a negligible chance that they will come into contact with food; and the 3H classification is for lubricants acting as direct contact release agents that are applied to moulds, grills, or other equipment in order to prevent food from sticking to the machinery during processing. These products must comply with 21 CFR, Section 172.878 as well as with NSF’s regulations

NSF also certifies food in accordance with ISO 21469, which goes above and beyond the standards for the H-category by taking into account the manufacturing system of the lubricant provider, including cleanliness and packing.

The NSF International website maintains a list of authorised food-grade lubricants, and goods will also bear the NSF seal.

Food-grade lubricants are also accredited by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) and HACCP Australia, with HACCP also providing certification for manufacturing systems and formulation.

Converting all food manufacturing equipment to use H1 & 3H certified lubricants is a good way to keep the risks of food contamination by lubricants as low as possible. This is because it can be challenging to determine the risk of lubricants coming into contact with contaminants in the case of maintenance or leaks.


How can Food Grade Lubricants help prevent food recalls?

The performance of Food Grade Lubricants especially synthetic ones is on par with or better than that of traditional oils and greases. They offer a strong buffer against wear/corrosion and ensure plant safety. Therefore, manufacturing plants have the potential to lower their maintenance costs and raise food safety. The cost of ensuring food safety is incalculable in present times.

Food Grade Lubricants also tend to have a longer product life and need to be replaced less frequently in machinery when compared to traditional oils and greases. They also provide added fluidity, thermal stability, and oxidation which can be crucial for machine life.

When mistakenly consumed in amounts below the 10 parts per million maximum level recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Grade Lubricants are safe (ppm). Non-food grade lubricants have a zero-tolerance policy for contamination, according to the FDA.

Food and beverage producers are under increasing pressure to assure product safety, safeguard the reputation of their brands, and boost production in the modern, ever-expanding & competitive global economy. Changing to food-grade lubricants can be a step in the right direction.


Food Grade Lubricants at Foodsafe Lubes

At Foodsafe Lubes, our exclusive focus is on offering high-performance, high-quality lubricants, and a lubrication program as a cost-saving solution to the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Products are authorised, certified, and comply with NSF, H1, 3H, Kosher, and Halal standards. Foodsafe lubricants meet the stringent safety and hygiene auditing requirements and can help you save money by preventing issues such as food recalls.

We offer a range of NSF H1 & 3H certified lubricants & aerosols that can be used in the food & pharmaceutical manufacturing industries.

OUR H1 Certified range includes:

OUR 3H Certified Range includes:


  1. Food recalls. (n.d.). Offline Maintenance. default.aspx
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