Food manufacturers take great care to ensure that their products are free of contaminants. They need to be particularly vigilant where rubber, in the form of seals, gaskets, hoses and conveyor belts, comes in contact with foodstuffs.
In dairy food processing, variables such as the fat content of the food, time, temperature and the extent of contact between food and rubber can cause chemicals from the rubber to migrate into the food.
There are two possible solutions that are ideally combined for extra safety. Firstly to use only approved ingredients and compounds in the rubber seals, o-rings and gaskets, secondly to encapsulate the rubber core in a fluoropolymer outer jacket usually of Teflon.
According to Food Standards Australia “It is the responsibility of food manufacturers and retailers to ensure that they comply with all relevant legislation.” The question is which legislation?
In the Dairy industry, the International Association of Milk, Food and Environmental Sanitarians, US Public Health Service, Dairy Industry Committee have formulated a standard called 3A covering use of rubber materials in the production, processing and handling of milk and milk products.
For the general food industry, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are regarded as the leading global standards body.
Seals supplier Fluid Seals of Artarmon has researched the issues and standards that govern seals in the food industry.
Food grade safe seals are available from Fluid Seals & Packings.
Teflon is a trademark of DuPont Performance Elastomers.