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Food for thought: Food grade lubricants

Posted: 18 August 2016 | | No comments yet

Within the FUCHS Group, FUCHS LUBRITECH, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, is the expert for special application lubricants. A team of more than 500 specialists around the world work to meet the industry needs. Service is a crucial and fundamental component of the offering…

Eduard-M-Stempfel,

Eduard M. Stempfel, Global Product Manager and Application Specialist, FUCHS LUBRITECH GmbHWithin the FUCHS Group, FUCHS LUBRITECH, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, is the expert for special application lubricants. A team of more than 500 specialists around the world work to meet the industry needs. Service is a crucial and fundamental component of the offering.

The LUBRITECH group offers a full range of more than 1,000 special products, including food grade lubricants, adhesive lubricants, lubricating fluids and greases, pastes, solid film lubricants, concrete release agents, aerosols and metal-forming lubricants. The company maintains the following certifications: ISO 9001: 2008, ISO 21469, Halal and Kosher.

Our brand name CASSIDA stands for the highest safety standards for food, optimal productivity, reliability and smooth operation – these are the key things to be considered when developing food grade lubricants.

The product development in this area primarily needs a deep knowledge of allowed formulation options, international and local legislation, religious rules and a fair amount of knowledge regarding the different applications popping up throughout.

Our brand name CASSIDA stands for the highest safety standards for food, optimal productivity, reliability and smooth operation – these are the key things to be considered when developing food grade lubricants.

The product development in this area primarily needs a deep knowledge of allowed formulation options, international and local legislation, religious rules and a fair amount of knowledge regarding the different applications popping up throughout the large number of food and beverage manufacturing methods.

Therefore it’s not an easy task for formulation chemists, especially because they have to keep in mind that the product should not only fulfill all of the above mentioned restrictions but should finally as well act as a high performance lubricant.

The current MOAH, MOSH and POSH topic is an issue which has been brought up increasingly over the last five years and which has resulted in quite a lot of confusion and uncertainties even for insiders. Mineral oil in Advent calendars? Dye residues in chocolate? By the end of 2012 the German ‘Stiftung Warentest’ published a report about mineral oil residues in Advent calendars. After rice, cornflakes and advent calendars it was almost to be expected that traces of mineral oils are also detectable in chocolate bunnies; the study done by the German branch of Foodwatch found mineral oils in eight of 20 checked chocolate bunnies.

One of the main problems currently is that customers might not fully understand the chemistry of food grade lubricants as almost all of them are based on hydrocarbons whether they are mineral oil based or synthetic. Besides that the current analysis methods are not able to differentiate between MOSH (mineral oil based saturated hydrocarbons) and POSH (polyolefin oligomer saturated hydrocarbons) but in MOAH (mineral oil based aromatic hydrocarbons) and MOSH only. 

A further difficulty which has to be explained to customers is the fact that food contamination by hydrocarbons usually is not resulting from lubricants but more often from the environment (harvesting, exhaust gas, recycled paperboard, printing inks, jute bags, anti-dusting aids, spraying chemicals to make the food shiny).

For the time being it is a tricky story, which currently takes up quite a lot of time for explanations and clarifications.

Although technology is changing and developing pretty fast these days, lubrication as such might not change in the same manner – we do not have as many ‘innovations’ as perhaps other areas of the food and beverage industry will have. In a longer term the ‘MOSH hysteria’ might result in more food grade lubricants based on native base fluids or synthetics which do not consist of hydrocarbons. However these types of lubricants will be either significantly more expensive or worse regarding their performance as lubricants.

Beside this there is an ongoing activity by food manufacturers to apply similar safety precautions to their suppliers, especially packaging and food additives. This will certainly extend the use of food grade lubricants but without drastic impact to the lubricant technology/ formulation of existing product portfolios.

Specialty products are exciting but require specialty and dedicated staff in R&D, Sales, Production and Technical Support. The FUCHS Group has a very strong focus on R&D with more than 400 chemists, engineers and specialists in more than 40 laboratories worldwide.

Safe food and beverage manufacturing can only be achieved by applying strict hygiene rules and following detailed HACCP concepts. It is therefore imperative to us that we apply similar rules for our CASSIDA lubricants as well. These rules are mandatory to all our sales partners around the world. This ensures our customers that they get the same products in the same quality and manufactured by the same stringent rules in every place around the world.

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