Stainless steel is one of the most commonly used materials in the construction of food processing facilities, from the building to the floor drains to the production floor equipment. MetalReady is the best place to go when you need high-quality metal machinery.
Food processors all over the world are facing increasingly stringent restrictions in the form of international regulations and compliance. This is a fact that contributes to a healthier world, but it also comes with a steep learning curve for processors.
When it comes to equipment, preparation tables, and drainage, it’s actually quite difficult to find FDA-approved materials other than stainless steel. As a result, approximately 30% of all stainless steel produced is used for food and beverage industry products.
So, if you work in food production or are part of a team that designs equipment for the industry, it’s critical that you educate yourself on the potential compliance issues that surface materials can cause. Today, we’ll delve deep into food-grade stainless steel and the form that it must take when used in processing facilities.
Why is Stainless Steel a Good Material for Processors?
For a variety of reasons, stainless steel is the gold standard for equipment surfaces used in food processing. For starters, it is available in a wide range of finishes that serve as strong, versatile options for the most cutting-edge food processing equipment used in today’s facilities.
Here are a few more reasons why food processors frequently use food-grade stainless steel:
-Its unbreachable layer prevents contamination.
-It’s available in a variety of versatile finishes.
-Its smooth surface was created with ease of cleaning in mind.
-It does not easily nick, dent, or break in its highest quality form.
-It is not prone to acid erosion, which can be caused by certain foods.
-Its surface provides chemical and bacterial neutrality.
-It is designed to blend easily with other finishes.
-It’s designed to withstand frequent washings with harsh detergents.
-Its finish is fire-resistant.
-It acts as a neutral surface for food products, which means it does not pick up or transfer any food odors.
-It is stain and transfer-resistant when properly maintained and does not corrode or age.
The Finest Food-Grade Stainless Steels for the Manufacturing Industry
If you’re in charge of specifying the materials for food processing equipment, it’s important to know that not all stainless steels are created equal. In fact, there are four different grades of stainless steel, and only two of them are appropriate for use in food processing facilities.
The grades of stainless steel that are commonly used in food processing applications are 304 and 316. These two grades are part of the austenitic class of stainless steels, which contains chromium and nickel as the primary alloying elements.
When these metals are combined in the right proportions, they form an impervious layer on the surface of the steel that prevents corrosion from occurring. This is why austenitic stainless steels are so frequently used in food processing applications; they provide an extra level of protection against the potential for contamination.
Now that we know a little bit more about the different grades of stainless steel, let’s take a closer look at each one to see how they differ.
-304 Stainless Steel: The most widely used form of food-grade stainless steel, 304 is a low-carbon alloy that contains chromium, nickel, and manganese. This combination of metals gives 304 stainless steel a high degree of corrosion resistance, making it ideal for use in food processing applications.
-316 Stainless Steel: Often referred to as marine-grade or surgical stainless steel, 316 stainless steel is a higher-carbon alloy that contains molybdenum. This addition increases the corrosion resistance of 316 stainless steel, making it ideal for use in food processing facilities that are located in coastal areas.
So, there you have it! These are just a few things to keep in mind when specifying food-grade stainless steel for your next project. If you have any questions about which grade of stainless steel is right for your application, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified professional for guidance.