Metals come into touch with food at different stages of production. To avoid the transmission of dangerous components from metals to food, it is critical to understand the sort of interaction that occurs between the two and to choose the appropriate metal for handling based on the food processor. Various authorities throughout the world are researching the effects of various metals and alloys used in various phases of food preparation. Food preparation and heating may release measurable amounts of metallic elements in the alloy into foods, resulting in human consumption. The Council of Europe has established permitted Specific Release Limits in order to reduce the impact of these elements (SRLs).
A “specific release limit” (SRL) is the maximum quantity of a certain metal ion or metalloid ion (in mg) that can be released into food (in kg) or food simulants from a material or item with a defined surface area.
The precise release limitations for metals and alloys used in food contact materials and articles must be adhered to (SRLs). The list includes SRL limits for the majority of alloying elements. The SRL limit for Nickel is 0.14 mg/kg of food, while the limit for Chromium is 0.250 mg/kg.
In the food industry, stainless steel is used.
Because of its inherent corrosion resistance, stainless steel is commonly employed in the food sector. It may be shaped into a variety of intricate shapes. Stainless steel does not corrode when cleaned or sterilized. It also has no color or flavor, which makes it excellent for use in the food business.
The majority of stainless steel used in food applications has chromium content between 16 and 18 percent, which has been determined to provide the best corrosion resistance in a variety of food and beverage media. Cutlery, hollowware, and culinary utensils are all made from austenitic grades of steel. Brewing vessels and milk tankers are examples of other applications. Corrosive food and beverage products are stored and transported using high alloy austenitic grades. Molybdenum-containing grades are particularly resistant to salt-containing foods. Because of its wide range of applications in the food sector, 316L/1.4404 is referred to as “food grade.” 304L/1.4307, on the other hand, is a common grade for use in the food sector.
The fact that ferritic stainless steel is magnetic is a distinguishing feature. It’s used in the production of household appliances (dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens). For a few applications where extreme corrosion resistance is not required, the grade 430/1.4016 provides adequate corrosion resistance. Another benefit of this grade is its low cost. 1.4016 is much less expensive than austenitic grades, making it a cost-effective option. They perform well in strongly oxidizing situations (e.g., nitric acid) and have great Stress Corrosion Cracking resistance. Its usage is limited, however, due to its poor formability and weldability.
Carbon levels are high in martensitic grades. Heat treatment can be used to harden this sort of stainless steel. The grade is utilized in applications that require a high level of wear resistance. The grade 420/1.4021 is widely used in the production of knife blades. The grade 1.4116 can be used for exceptional quality blades that retain their sharpness even after extended use.
Because of their great resistance to corrosion produced by salty solutions at high temperatures, duplex grades are chosen for handling corrosive foodstuffs. Duplex grades outperform austenitic grades in terms of stress corrosion cracking, crevice corrosion, and pitting resistance. Custard and vinegar production, sauce manufacture, cheese dairies, and seafood canning factories are all examples of applications.
The choice of metals and alloys for usage in the food and beverage industry is critical since it entails significant expenditures in terms of procurement and setup. The correct quality of stainless extends the equipment’s useful life, lowering the entire life cycle cost. Stainless steel is available in approximately 150 different grades. Each grade has distinct traits that set it apart from the others. The choice of the grade should be based on the application and suitability of the grade for the given environment.
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