Food grade lubricants and their classifications and uses

Food grade lubricants are used during the production of food as well as food packaging (where there is direct product contact), tobacco products and animal feed. In the same way as any other lubricant they are used to protect against friction, wear, corrosion, heat and deposits and for the transmission of power.

Food grade lubricants must comply with safe food regulations and be registered by the USA based NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). Products that are approved by the NSF as lubricants and release agents for the food industry are assigned to specific product codes (H1, H2, H3, HT1 and 3H) depending on their use. Understanding these different food grade lubrication classifications helps ensure optimal safety and compliance.

H1 lubricants are food-grade lubricants used in food-processing environments where there is the possibility of incidental food contact. To gain H1 approval, lubricant manufacturers have to prove that all of the ingredients in the formulation are allowable substances in accordance with the Guidelines of Security Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 

H2 lubricants are used on equipment and machine parts in locations in the plant where absolutely no contact with a food (or food related product) is possible. H2 lubricants are also used as a release agent on machine parts or equipment.

H3 lubricants (or soluble oils) are used to clean and prevent against corrosion/rust on equipment, such as hooks and trolleys. These are food-grade lubricants, but must be wiped off prior to use of the equipment. H3 Lubricants can contain oils from corn, cottonseed and soybean.

HT1 are heat transfer oils used in primary and secondary heating and cooling systems in food processing facilities where there is the possibility of incidental food contact. 3H are non-toxic, release agents (mostly vegetable oils) used on equipment where food contact is inevitable, for example on seals, mincer plates and blades.

3H are non-toxic, release agents (mostly vegetable oils) used on equipment where food contact is inevitable, for example on seals, mincer plates and blades.Using a reputable lubricant supplier is critical for food processing operations particularly for H1 lubricants which have restrictions on the types of additives allowed. These restrictions should not limit performance, but you need to understand the limit of the lubricant which is where a reputable and trusted supplier is invaluable.

Using a reputable lubricant supplier is critical for food processing operations particularly for H1 lubricants which have restrictions on the types of additives allowed. These restrictions should not limit performance, but you need to understand the limit of the lubricant which is where a reputable and trusted supplier is invaluable

A reputable supplier can also assist with implementing an HACCP plan by identifying points throughout the production and packaging process where the product could face incidental exposure to a lubricant. They can offer guidance on maintaining documentation, minimizing lubricant usage without decreasing performance and establishing control procedures.

In addition to the H1, H2 and H3 product codes the ISO 21469 (a product level certification) standard exists to demonstrate that a lubricant is manufactured in a hygienic environment, using both best practices and the safest ingredients, and is the highest accolade that a food grade lubricant manufacturer can achieve.

ANDEROL has a wide portfolio of food grade lubricants for all sectors within the food and beverage industry including bakery, meat, dairy and confectionary. You can find ANDEROL’s full NSF listings here 

At ANDEROL we understand the challenges that many food processors face when managing their lubricant inventory. Our technical professionals within ANDEROL and our wider distributor network are available to offer support and advice on your specific application needs.