What Are Food Grade Gaskets?
There are many different kinds of gaskets on the market, but in cases where you are handling items that will be consumed, a food-grade gasket is the only answer. Gaskets that are made to meet food grade have a number of important properties that other types of gaskets may not have. It is this combination of specific properties that makes certain gaskets meet the standards needed to be rated as food grade. Here are the properties you can expect when looking for a food grade gasket:
FDA Compliant Gasket Material
Manufacturers cannot claim that a certain gasket is food grade if the gasket has not been approved and rated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is something that is easy to overlook because it may seem like a strange place for the FDA to be sticking its nose into, but when you think about it, this really makes sense. These gaskets are going to be touching the food that is processed and manufactured in the machines they are used on, so you definitely want the FDA to examine and rate these gaskets. No gaskets are FDA approved, but the FDA does approve all gasket materials and the manufacturing process that are compliant with its regulations. Gasket materials manufactured to FDA specification are considered food safe and are commonly in contact with consumables.
If this seems a bit redundant, it really isn’t. The FDA covers everything food and drug related (even cosmetics), but the USDA focuses on meat and poultry, so it may be necessary to have a gasket material that is also approved and rated by the USDA.
Gasket FDA Applications
Whenever you are talking about the food or drug processing industry, there are a wide variety of applications for gaskets. A food grade compliant gasket should work well for general gasket needs, skirting, or countertops. It should also be approved for use within the pharmaceutical industry. Of course as with all other kinds of gaskets, there are several different kinds that fall under the food grade umbrella.
Food Grade Gasket Materials
The type of food you are processing plays a major role into selecting the right gasket to use in the machines. For example, some types of foods may work better with a natural rubber that is also full-floating. With others, you may be looking for a higher tensile strength. It all depends upon what you are processing. The ingredients inside of the foods that are being processed also make a huge difference in the kind of food grade gasket you choose. Some gaskets are more resistant to acids or alkalis, ammonia, or organic salts, while others are better used in laundry lining, tumbler liners, bumper stock, and skirt board. As you can see, the first example is made specifically to stand up against commonly processed foods, while the other is made to be used in a more indirect way within the food processing industry.
Usually gaskets that are made up to food grade specifications are manufactured from larger sheets of material. It is essential that you know how high or low the temperatures of the processed food are going to get during the manufacturing of it. In some cases, temperature may not be much of a factor, but in others, it may not be an issue. Another thing to keep in mind when selecting a food grade gasket is the materials and ingredients that will be coming into contact with it. This includes everything from water to the lubricants that will be used inside the machine. The lubricants also must be manufactured up to food grade standards. Food grade materials include Nitrile which is the most common food grade material since it is an excellent oil and grease resistant sheet. Silicone is also an excellent option and also possesses a great temperature resistance withstanding temperatures from -80° to 450°F.
Choosing the right gasket can be a tricky business, so it is important that you have a professional help you figure out which is the best kind. The experts at Blaylock Gasket will help you figure out the best type of food grade gasket for your needs. Contact us today!
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