How to Avoid Corrosion-related Contamination in Food Processing Units

Food grade metals are widely used in the Food and Beverage (F&B) Industry. This class of metals ensures hygiene and non-contamination of food products. The chemical composition of the metal and the finishing of the surface will ensure the degree of corrosion resistance of the application. Corrosion-related contamination is a major cause for concern for most food processing companies. This is why manufacturers are constantly trying to use different grades of metal to prevent corrosion.

Since food-processing applications need to be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis, the metal used should be able to withstand pressurized water streams, cleaning chemicals, and rigorous washdowns. The metal should not corrode in such circumstances. In order to guarantee safe and hygienic processes, buyers need to ensure that the material used is compatible with the application.

Corrosion-related Problems Associated with Metals

Buyers should be aware of the three main types of corrosion-related problems that could occur:

  • Pitting & Crevice : This is caused when liquid corrodes a surface and forms a small crevice. As time passes by, more liquid is lodged in, causing the crevice to deepen. Characterized by long deep pits, acidic and high temperature applications increase the chances of pitting and crevice corrosion.
  • Intergranular (Weld Decay) :Welded portion of a metal tend to be weaker as compared to the rest. This makes it the prime location for corrosion to set in.
  • Stress Cracking :This is caused when the metal cracks on experiencing corrosion and stress at the same time.

Use of Food Grade Materials

To combat all the problems mentioned above, food grade or restaurant grade materials need to be used. Stainless steel serves as the perfect material for such purposes.

Stainless steel provides a hygienic surface for food preparation. It does not contain any pores or cracks that could harbor dirt or bacteria, making it very easy to clean. Being dent, ding, and rustproof, stainless steel surfaces are durable, low maintenance and environmental friendly. Some stainless steel plates or sheets may need further polishing treatment to bring it to the polish desired for various applications. For example, #8 Mirror Polish also known as a dairy finish is used in dairy trucks, cheese factories, restaurant surfaces, etc.

In order to ensure complete corrosion resistance, the manufacturer or supplier of the steel should be informed of the application environment prior to placing an order. The product manufacturer will then be able to incorporate a metal that fits the particular requirements. In case the metal needs to be treated, this can be done accordingly. Once the metal has been treated, there will be next to no corrosion for years of operation. This will ensure a hygienic environment for the food product being processes with no chance of contamination. This makes it easier for F&B processing companies to comply with FDA norms.

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