Current requests made by the EU for stronger controls and monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food and in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food are currently causing a considerable amount of uncertainty among food manufacturers. Tribology expert Klüber Lubrication has long been addressing this issue and has developed numerous speciality lubricants in line with the highest hygienic standards in place, according to the recommendations of the European Food Safety Authority.
High-performance lubricants in the food industry
One way in which mineral oils can enter the food chain is the production process and the process aids used, including the lubricants selected for the production of food and food packaging. Lubricants for incidental food contact can be based on non-alkane oils, such as silicone oil or PFPE, or on synthetic or non-synthetic hydrocarbons. All non-synthetic white oils Klüber Lubrication uses for NSF-H1 products are highly purified and thus virtually free of aromatic compounds.
“One advantage of our innovative high-performance lubricants is the fact that very small amounts are sufficient to achieve the desired lubrication effect and our tribology specialists are always aiming at further reducing the amount of lubricants needed“, said Paolo Spolaore, Global Market Manager Food Industry at Klüber Lubrication. "Because even with the highest hygienic standards, a contamination or cross-contamination with these substances during production, transport and stock, due to leakages, vapours, evaporation loss or ventilation, cannot be ruled out. Furthermore, high-quality services such as our regular lubricant analyses can help to identify or eliminate the risk of contamination at an early stage.“
Regulations and limit values
Klüber Lubrication’s H1 lubricants are in compliance with 21 CFR § 178.3570 issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration. That means they are designed for incidental, unintentional food contact. The amount used must be the minimum required to accomplish the desired technical effect and no non-H1 product should be used in and around the food-processing area. Correct use of H1 lubricants normally means that no contact with food occurs at all. In case of unavoidable food contact, the amount of lubricant in food must not exceed 1 ppm for silicone oils and 10 ppm for all other base oils.
Due to the complexity of determining MOH content in food, there are currently no standardised analyses and no legal limits for MOH in food in Europe. The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is working on statutory limits for migration through packaging, and values of max. 2 mg MOSH/kg food and 0.5 mg MOAH/kg food are being discussed. The analytical methods for MOH determination are continuously improved, thus the detection limit is decreasing. Typically, such analyses are performed by online-coupled chromatography (HPLC-GC/FID). The detection limits strongly depend on the MOH distribution in the sample, and the type of sample used. For example, in samples with a high oil content, the detection is limited to approx. 5 mg MOH/kg food, whereas in dry samples, 0.1-0.5 mg/kg can be detected.
If in doubt, ask the experts
Klüber Lubrication’s H1 lubricant portfolio yield MOSH/MOAH contaminations below the BMEL limits even in direct food contact, and 10 ppm of the lubricant in the food (which is the limit given by the FDA). Furthermore, Klüber Lubrication is playing an active role at the EHEDG (European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group), supporting its customers in reducing the risk of all kinds of food contamination, including lubricants in general, whether hydrocarbon-based or not, and wear particles as well. Küber Lubrication’s global team of experts in the food industry has designed a comprehensive package of services to support customers in this matter from tribological analysis to risk assessment, from lubricants monitoring to training.
About Klüber Lubrication
Klüber Lubrication is one of the world's leading manufacturers of speciality lubricants, offering high-end tribological solutions to virtually all industries and markets worldwide. Most products are developed and made to specific customer requirements. During its more than 80 years of existence, Klüber Lubrication has provided high-quality lubricants, thorough consultation and extensive services, which has earned it an excellent reputation in the market. The company holds all common industrial certifications and operates a test bay hardly rivalled in the lubricants industry.
Klüber Lubrication, set up as a retail company for mineral oil products in Munich in 1929, is today part of Freudenberg Chemical Specialities SE & Co. KG, a Business Unit of the Freudenberg Group, Weinheim. Klüber Lubrication has approximately 2000 employees in more than 30 countries.
About Freudenberg Chemical Specialities
Freudenberg Chemical Specialities Munich, was founded in 2004 as a new Business Group within the Freudenberg Group, Weinheim, Germany, a family-owned, diversified technology company with a history of more than 160 years. Freudenberg Chemical Specialities has a lean, market-oriented organization with Management Board and Corporate Functions. Its objective is to promote innovation potentials in its field of activities and to expand world-wide market leadership in special lubricants and release agents. The Business Group includes five largely independent divisions which are active in more than 50 countries: Klüber Lubrication, Chem-Trend, SurTec, Capol and OKS.