Is Food-Grade always Food-Safe?
Is Food-Grade Always Food-Safe?There are key differences between these terms.
You also need to think about how the material is constructed. Does it have pieces/parts that can be accidently removed during use, such as a pail with an attached handle that often falls apart and can potentially make its way into the product stream? Or maybe a cleaning brush that often loses its bristles. Does the material/equipment have seams, and are those seams smooth and cleanable? When evaluating equipment, always make sure it is designed for the intended use. If equipment is not designed for its intended use, it can often render it ineffective and depending on how critical the process, significantly increase a food-safety risk. Choosing materials that are “food-safe” can be just as important as choosing materials that are “food-grade”.
Have you ever heard someone say “it’s only a trash can if you put trash in it”? What does that mean exactly? It usually means that containers designed for trash may be used to hold food ingredients or products intended for human consumption. What is the potential risk in that situation? Is that container safe for food contact? It is obviously not the intended use and adulterated product may be the end result. So how does someone determine if the food contact material is “food-safe”? There are several third-party certification companies that verify food equipment and/or food contact materials are indeed “food-safe”, including HACCP International, NSF and 3A. If the material or product that you are evaluating does not have one of these certifications, then the burden is on you to properly risk assess the potential hazards of your operation and to prove to your customers and regulatory bodies that your process is food-safe. So, during your next food-safety team meeting, challenge your team members to take a good, hard look at everything that comes in contact with the food stream and ask, “is this truly ‘food-safe’?”
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