Lubricant Lexicon

by Shane Whitaker
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NSF International, Ann Arbor, MI, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, certifies lubricants for the food industry. The group inherited the task about a decade ago when the US Department of Agriculture decided it no longer would support testing or compliance of these products. NSF classifies lubricants appropriate for food plants into four categories:

  • H1 lubricants are true food-grade compounds and permitted for use on equipment where food might incidentally be exposed to lubricated parts of machinery. If these lubricants are found in a food product, however, concentration levels must be less than 10 parts per million.
  • H2 lubricants are food-grade; however, they can only be used if there is no chance the lubricant comes into contact with the food being processed because they can contain toxic chemicals.
  • H3 lubricants are edible oils, mainly vegetable oil.
  • 3H lubricants are food-grade release agents such as white mineral oil used on pans, baking surfaces or other dough makeup equipment.

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