· 5 min read
Food and beverage processors want food-grade lubricants because they can meet production demands without compromising food safety. But the truth is, the term “food grade” is one that can be loosely used. Registering or certifying a lubricant with a third party like NSF provides assurance that a product does indeed meet the regulatory requirements for food grade.
During normal operations, the possibility of a lubricant making minor contact with food always exists. Since food-grade lubricants are technically not a food ingredient, this incidental contact cannot lead to the contamination of the food.
To be registered as a lubricant that allows for incidental contact, the product must be formulated in accordance with the U.S. FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Section 178.3570 (21 CFR):
12,000+ H1 food-grade lubricants registered globally.
7% average yearly growth rate for H1 lubricants registered by NSF.
Regulators worldwide refer to 21 CFR to define what they consider a food-grade lubricant. There is a misconception that lubricants are registered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is not true. The USDA discontinued its registration program in 1998.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) does not have any official rules governing the definition of food grade; however, it is important to know:
Food-grade lubricants manufactured in, imported into or exported out of Brazil must be certified to ISO 21469.
The Food Hygiene Law of the People’s Republic of China has no specific regulations about food-grade lubricants used in the country. Nevertheless, food-grade lubricants exported from China should be H1 registered or ISO 21469 certified for greater product acceptance in global markets.
To verify a lubricant is food-grade, food and beverage processors around the world reference a registration program’s listing like the NSF White Book™.