Food grade rubber increasingly important in the food industry
Given the special needs of the food industry for food grade rubbers, we are often asked what rubber compounds are suitable for use in food applications.
The short answer is that rubber compounds used in food applications must meet the applicable standards that are specified in individual countries. In general, these standards distinguish the length of time to which rubber used in food processing may be in contact with food, while also specifying the permissible materials and their quantities that may be present in compound formulations.
In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a list of rubber compounding ingredients which laboratory tests have indicated are neither toxic nor carcinogenic. Rubber compounds produced entirely from these ingredients, and which also pass the FDA extraction tests, are said to meet FDA requirements.
It should be noted that the FDA does not approve rubber compounds. Rather, it is the responsibility of the rubber manufacturer to compound food grade materials from the FDA list of ingredients, and then verify that these materials pass the necessary extraction requirements. Similar standards to the FDA requirements have also been established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Food grade rubber compounds are used to produce a variety of products suitable for use in food processing. These products include rubber seals, gaskets, hoses, and O-rings. In many food applications, these products may be used in elevated temperature and pressure settings and they may come into contact with oils and other food constituents. It is important to know the application environment and conditions so that the optimal material is selected.
CRGI stocks a variety of specialty rubber materials that meet FDA requirements, including food-grade silicone rubbers that reduce the growth of MRSA, E. coli, and salmonella bacteria. In particular, food-grade silicone rubbers have outstanding characteristics that make it a preferred material for food processing applications. The temperature resilience of silicone rubber, together with its non-stick and inert properties, make it especially attractive for use in food production environments. In addition, additives may be included in the compound to address food processing requirements. For example, metectSil™ is a metal detectable silicone that includes additives that show up on a metal detectable scanner should the material degrade or decompose, and neutraSil™ is a compound containing silver ions that inhibit bacterial growth.
All solid silicone sheeting stocked by CRGI meets FDA requirements for use in applications involving food and drink contact. Combining our extensive inventory of food-grade materials with our innovative cutting and fabrication processes, CRGI can produce on-demand a variety of products for use in food processing applications. Products we have produced for food processing applications include gaskets and seals, washers, sleeves, and other custom fabricated shapes and profiles.
Our sales staff can provide guidance on selecting the right material for a specific application. For more information on the food-grade materials we can supply, please contact our sales department today.