As important as any other ingredient: NSF-H1-certified lubricants for the food industry.
For several years the food industry has recorded constantly increasing sales figures. In 2018 the food production and processing made an amount of nearly 160 billions Euros. Almost 45% of that are accounted for meat processing companies. With an average sales growth of 2.5 % during the past 15 years the food industry is even ahead of the chemical industry, which only achieved 2 % in the same period of time.
Expectations and reality: Companies under pressure
The demands on the quality of production and processing are steadily growing. This trend is reflected in the consumer spending behaviour. The expenditures increased from around 165 billions Euros in 2000 to 238 billions in the year 2019. Consumers are willing to pay more for foodstuff, but they also require high quality in terms of production and processing of the food. Not only on the part of the consumers the pressure on the industry is growing : Strict governmental requirements and controlling cause stringent hygienic and safety-related regulations regarding the production, processing and packaging of food, beverage and tobacco.
Trust is good, control is better
In the past years governmental food controls have quantitatively decreased, but they increased in terms of quality. And so did the number of products under complaint. In 2019 foodstuff for special nutrition forms, among others baby food and dietary food products, were top of the complaint list of controlled foodstuff. Auditors found more than 23 % of cases with noteworthy deficiencies, the meat-processing industry with 15 % being located in the middle range closely followed by bakery goods and ready meals. Even though these figures do not appear very high, the economic consequences can be disastrous.
Product quality is the best brand management
Customers rely on the quality of the products by focussing on the image of brands and manufacturers. According to a study by the journal “Horizont” 3 of 4 of the interviewed persons consider product quality the most important criterion in terms of trust in a brand. For the development and maintaining of their brands companies have to raise enormous sums of money every year. Yet, nothing is as fragile as the “good reputation”. Therefore even the slightest deficiency may cause a huge loss of confidence. So, in the manufacture and processing of food much more is at stake than only the current batch.
Product safety throughout the whole production process
Any products and substances which may come into contact with foodstuff to be processed must be suitable for such contact. That goes for easily cleanable surfaces of conveyor belts as well as for the lubricants which keep them running. Especially auxiliary devices for the operation of machinery and equipment are a great danger as to the contamination of the foodstuff. Conveyors and conveyor chains run at very high speeds slinging leaking lubricants at times metres wide away. Inappropriate lubricants in hot ovens release vapours that condens on the baked goods. Bioaccumulative lubricants can easily become a breeding ground for germs.
Which products can be used in the food industry?
Lubricant manufacturers meet the growing requirements by offering suitable products. Some manufacturers have specialized in lubricants for use in the food industry. The demands made on these materials are not less high than those made on the food products themselves. The minimum requirements include strictly controlled purity, clean processing procedures and high-quality basic materials. What is more, the toxicity of some raw materials limits the choice of suitable materials.
Certificates provide legal certainty and product safety
A lubricant’s suitability for application in the food processing industry is attested by special certificates. These are applied for by the manufacturer and are released by governmental agencies after an inspection. The first official certificate for the use of a lubricant in a food processing procedure was awarded to the JAX company in the sixties of last century. Since then the “H1-Release” of the American NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) has established itself as standard in the industrial sector. The use of products released according to the NSF regulations is the basis for the “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points-Concept” (HACCP-Concept). Since 2006 the implementation of the HACCP-Concept is obligatory for all food processing industries in Europe.
Product classification according to their application areas
The classification of lubricants into different categories is based on their contamination potentials. That means, the proximity of the lubricant to the foodstuff in the production process determines the grade of release. Insofar, the following classifications have developed:
– “NSF H2” for the use in machinery and equipment outside the actual production process. There is only an abstract risk that the processed food may come in contact with the lubricant. – “NSF H1” refers to lubricants in applications where an incidental and temporary food contact is possible. The H1 release is mandatory for lubricants applied in machinery and equipment operating in direct processing procedures. – “NSF 3H” applies to lubricants having direct and continuous contact with processed food. Typical examples are release sprays in the production of bakery goods.
In addition, the NSF issues approvals for “halal” and “kosher” products which come up to Islamic or Jewish dietary laws.
Broad range of experience and products
It is a very large undertaking to overlook all these challenges. Costenoble supports food processing companies to observe what is relevant, to optimize processes and increase product safety. Apart from a large store of knowledge accumulated during more than 70 years of experience, Costenoble also provides a broad product range and cooperates with some of the biggest leading chemical companies of the world.