Food grade lubricants are industrial lubricants and they are similar to them in most aspects. Their purpose is to fulfill the same tribological requirements as other lubricants: They must provide protection against friction and wear and transfer power. In short: They keep the machinery running. However, food grade lubricants need to comply with a set of additional specific requirements1.
They need to be:
- physiologically inert
Due to their use in food and beverage production they are much more strictly regulated than any other lubricants used in e.g. your car engine, where food safety is not a factor to consider. Food grade lubricants may be used in applications where incidental food contact may potentially occur. Such incidental contact is limited to a trace amount: It must not exceed ten parts per million (i.e. 0.001 percent), or else the food is deemed unsafe for consumption. Using unsafe lubricants can lead to contamination of food, which could lead to resulting in pollution-caused illnesses of customers, leading to a loss of trust in affected food brands and manufacturers.
Food grade lubricants are used in various system parts within production and processing lines, e.g. as gear oils, chain oils, compressor oils, hydraulic oils, or corrosion preventative oils.