What are Classified as Food Grade / Food Safe Gaskets?

23 October 2018

Acids and oils course like water through wide channels. And although the compounds aren’t as toxic as those found interred inside chemical processing plants, that doesn’t mean they can’t eat their way through a rubber gasket. That’s why the food industry can’t operate for long without food grade gaskets. Anything less, well, those corrosive fluids will eventually eat away their material bases.

Seal Materials That Frustrate Food Corrosiveness 

Some rubbers deteriorate when they’re exposed to acids. Other materials, they break down when heavy oils are present. Granted, the fluids here are mildly acidic, and those oily fluids are nothing more than animal fat or vegetable oil. Still, in food grade applications, those seals are exposed to acids and oils 24/7, all year round. The liquefied foodstuff could also be hot or chilled, so the selected food grade gasket better provide plenty of chemical resistance strength.

Food-Grade Classifications 

Generally speaking, gaskets that are designed to satisfy the FDA (Food Drug Administration) standards and the FSANZ (Food Standards Australian and New Zealand) lack the additives that are commonly injected into most sealing products. But let’s leave this feature alone, just for the moment. The gaskets are die cut from sheets of silicone and nitrile, from modified PTFE and other food safe gasketing rubbers. Oftentimes, for maintenance and sanitizing reasons, the industry opts for a standardized style, a white or translucent sheeting material. Clearly, then, there are weighty issues in play.

Comprehensive Gasketing Solutions 

The foodstuff in the pipes could be waste, could be some stringy residue, but it could also be headed for a jar or can, which then hits the highway on the back of a truck as it heads to market. As such, food grade rubber needs more than the system-beneficial chemical resistance feature mentioned earlier. Those seals must also guarantee a food safe build. Remember, pickling juices, vinegars, oils, and salts break down gaskets, but that action occurs slowly. This is what’s known as the food leeching effect. Going back to additives, the plasticizers and fillers touched upon in the previous paragraph, food safe gaskets cannot incorporate such additives, not if they’ll end up migrating into the edible stream.

Food safe and food-proof, the rubbers used in this mildly corrosive industrial and commercial application are designed to retain their fluid sealing features and elastoviscous characteristics, even when a strong vinegar, citric acid, or salt is conveyed. Beyond that key feature, of course, the rubber gaskets, be they nitrile or silicone, must be designed to neutralize the rubber leeching effect, for this is a consumables stream, a product that’s meant for human consumption.

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