Recent health scares over exported product exposes the fragility of export markets and the absolute importance to get it right. Any major recall, either nationally or internationally, can have a profound economic affect for any business operating in this market.
Most processing plants are automated, using mechanical equipment to manage and move product during the manufacturing process. Most machinery requires lubrication, usually in the form of oil and grease. Lubricants are an integral part of the manufacturing process and their presence must be considered when controlling contamination and maintaining quality standards. It is these considerations that have driven the oil industry to develop a wide range of food grade oils and greases.
In New Zealand, food grade lubricants are assessed and approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for use in local food processing premises. Approved lubricants are given an Approval Maintenance Compound (non-Dairy) code. Code compliant products are permitted for use in all food processing plants excluding farm dairy sheds, which come under a separate code. The approved products are listed with a ‘C’ coding (e.g. C11, C12, C13 etc), which designates the extent and usage of the product in a food processing area. Only C15 oils are approved for use where minimal food contact is possible.
The regulatory requirements of lubricant suppliers to meet food grade obligations are often not matched by the food processing industry using these products in their workplaces.
Many food processing plants are ignoring the use of food grade lubricants in areas of possible contamination and therefore putting food quality standards at risk. There is a belief in the industry that any lubricants being used below the food processing area can be non-food grade, and only those lubricated areas above the product line are at risk and therefore need a food grade lubricant.
If lubricated equipment below the food line is leaking, then the possibility of oil transfer and oil mists circulating around the food processing area is possible. Any hoses or pipes below the food line are susceptible to failure resulting in oil being sprayed in areas that could quite easily contaminate product.
Another problem is processing plants that use both food grade and non-food grade lubricants in the same areas. There is a possibility that a non-food grade product will go into an area specifically designated for food grade products, with consequences if any leakage occurs.
Oil Intel offers a complete range of compliant food grade oils from Total and Cargo, as well as plant audits and expert technical advice.
Phone 06 871 5325 or 0800 TOTAL OIL (868 256).