Today, we will introduce you to the fundamental understanding of food grade – a term in manufacturing material control to guarantee the sanity and non-toxic of materials or devices that directly contact food and beverage products.
This article will provide information about food grade and help you understand why food grade is an essential term in food and beverage manufacturers. Therefore, you will have a well-prepared knowledge to meet food grade standards and build a safe production flow for your business.
What does food grade mean?
Food grade refers to the materials used in the equipment
Food grade is the term, not an organization or regulation, which refers to the materials used in equipment. To be known as food grade, materials have to be non-toxic and safe for consumption.
Food grade equipment and devices are critical since goods are usually in direct contact with the devices manufacturing the food and beverage products. Chemical compounds in the materials could leach into exposed goods, or in some cases, result in small pieces of material transferring directly into the product to be used.
The food grade material must be designed depending on these cardinal rules:
- The material is used in the recommended safe temperature range
- The material is safe for the type of food and beverage that it’s in direct contact with
- The material’s integrity will not be faltering regular sanitation and cleaning processes
Anyway, food grade is just a term to describe the material or equipment and does not mean that the whole equipment is safe for food and beverage. Other matters, like cleanability, have to be taken into account. The only way to ensure the equipment is sanitary and quality is based on certifications from authority organizations such as 3-A Sanitary Standards or European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) and utilizing proper installation and maintenance methods.
Why is food grade important?
The safety of consumers is the most crucial matter
The safety of human consumption is the most crucial matter; thus, food and beverage manufacture, packaging processes, and devices that direct contact with the product needs to be friendly to consumers’ health. Depending on the specific field of manufacturing, the producer has to understand and verify each food-grade material related to their manufacturing process.
If there is no connection between the supply chain and food grade standards, the manufacturer can make some mistakes and put consumers at risk.
Even if the production process can be shortened, use cheaper machines, devices or materials for cost-saving and do not follow food-grade obligations. But this type of action can cause many serious consequences for consumer’s health and may harm the producer’s reputation in the long run. This problem is why every food and beverage manufacturer has to change their plan to meet the desired food grade.
Food grade and Food safe: What are the differences?
The key difference between food grade and food safe is regarding materials and final products
It’s confusing to differentiate food grade and food safe for most people. Don’t worry; there is only one key difference between these two definitions.
For a definition, food-grade refers to the material allowed to come into direct contact with food and beverage. Food safe means that the finished food and beverage products are suitable and safe for human consumption without any hazards.
Therefore, the main difference between food grade and food safe is regarding materials and final products.
Food grade is typically related to materials during the manufacturing process and essentially claims that these materials don’t contain any toxins or dangerous elements. To be considered food grade, the material needs to be cleaned effectively and not allow any strange particles to have a chance to get into food and beverage. The surface must be smooth and free of any imperfections like cracks, crevices or ridges, as that is the place that could raise bacteria.
Food safe comes as the last step to guarantee quality production. A product is called to be safe when it’s claimed safe for consumers to use directly.
4 Popular Food grade certificates
NSF 51 Food Equipment Materials certifications refer to health and sanitation requirements for materials
NSF 51 Food Equipment Materials certifications establish minimum health and sanitation requirements for materials used to make commercial food and beverage equipment. Food, beverage and drinking water direct contact materials must not contaminate food nor make food equipment difficult to clean and sanitize. NSF tests and certifies a diversity of plastic materials and resins for food contact consumption.
Plastics resins suitable for testing by the NSF for food contact certification include materials:
- Nylon (PA)
- Acetal (POM)
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)
The HACCP International Certification Programme targeted organizations required to supply ‘food safe’ equipment, materials, machinery, supplies and devices to the food and beverage industry. Non-food items and services used extensively in manufacturing, handling, and supply can considerably impact food safety and operators of HACCP-based food safety programs.
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With evaluation, continual product review and, as required, site inspections, we offer manufacturers, distributors and, importantly, their customers, third-party assessment and certification of material safety, accuracy and appropriateness in a food application – issued by an independent organization of food safety experts.
Typically, certified products and services include:
- Cleaning services, materials, chemicals, soaps and sanitizers
- Fit-out material, cool room equipment, lighting, ventilation systems, and storage place
- Pest Control services and chemicals
- Processing equipment, dispensers, components and consumables,
- Utensils, workwear and food safety items – thermometers, loggers and systems
- Construction materials, surfaces and finishes
Those goods or services that carry the HACCP International mark can be promoted as food safe and endorsed by HACCP International. Many organizations supplying appropriate and food-safe products to the food industry proudly display the HACCP International Food Safety logo in their facilities, products, packaging, and promotional material. The logo is well known, highly recognized and understood by industry to be synonymous with an active and proven dedication to user food safety and ‘fitness for purpose.
Products or services licensed to use the HACCP International food safety mark also benefit from access to a marketing platform, including mail-outs, advertising and web-based support. HACCP International conducts market awareness and customer support programs to assist those companies whose products or services carry their mark.
Food Contact Materials certificate is known as materials, devices or products intended to contact food
Food Contact Materials (FCM) are known as materials, devices or products intended to contact with food, are already in direct contact with food, or may reasonably be expected to direct contact with food. They can appear in the machinery that processes food, the packaging that carries food, and the equipment used to store, cook and eat products.
SGS’s global network of laboratories can help producers comply with the FCM regulations governing their target market.
In Europe, Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 offers the general framework for FCM. Some goods may also come under the scope of targeted regulations for ceramics, elastomers and various forms of plastic. Individual countries may differently interpret EU laws or maintain their FCM standards, exceeding EU standards.
FCM is regulated by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) in the USA. Stakeholders should be aware of local prescriptions on FCM, including state-specific requirements on bisphenol A (BPA) and state and county-specific regulations on children’s goods. Suppliers in California also need to be aware of settlement agreements reached California Proposition 65.
In the Asia Pacific Region, FCM regulations are defined by complexity. Without a single common market, jurisdictions retain localized laws, some of which depend on international requirements. Stakeholders should take into consideration the regulations that pertain specifically to their target market to ensure compliance.
3 – A is in addition to being FDA food contact material compliant
3-A was established in the 1920s by three dairy-related associations. It built sanitary standards and practices (3-A Sanitary Standards) for commercial equipment, materials and systems used to manufacture milk and milk products and other perishable food and beverage. 3-A approved materials must be resistant to steam sterilization, milk fat, acid and alkali cleaning solutions, and chlorine sanitizing agents. This term is in addition to being FDA food contact material compliant.
To wrap up, food grade is a basic term and can not guarantee your whole process is safe and clean. Food grade takes a tiny portion of a vast food safety program. Therefore, to achieve a high valuation and understanding of experts and consumers, you may need more than a food-grade certificate.
It would be hard and take time to prepare your whole manufacturing system for the tests, but it’s worth your effort on many sides. Having a food-grade certificate helps your products stand out from the crowd, and your company’s reputation step up to a new level.
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Tan Do is a global beverage ODM/OEM manufacturer and supplier located in Vietnam. Since 1996, we have built trust and credibility not only throughout Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology, we have crafted thousands of products that align with ISO, HACCP, HALAL, FDA, and many other standards.