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Enhancing food safety with advanced lubricants

Rainer Lange, Mobil SHC Brand Advisor – EAME, ExxonMobil

In the food and beverage sector, with all the new regulations that focus on energy efficiency and the fast growth of the market, it is easy – but not advisable – to forget one of the most important elements of the industry – safety. The European Commission’s food law principles and requirements state that ‘it is necessary to adopt measures aimed at guaranteeing that unsafe food is not placed on the market’1, which is why food-grade lubricants are specifically developed to cause limited or no risk in case any incidental food contact occurs.
On average, in the US and Western Europe, only 25 per cent of total lubricants used in the food industry are food grade lubricants2. This statistic suggests that there is a need for food and beverage manufacturers to better understand the importance of food safety and reduction of contamination risk. Not only can the contamination of food products – which can occur when non-food grade lubricants are used – cause illness but it can also lead to costly product recalls which can affect profit and can also harm a company’s reputation. Accordingly, manufacturers need to manage this risk through proper application of the correct lubricants specifically developed to cause limited or no risk in the case of incidental food contact.
While safety does not depend on any one element, industrial lubricants are one of the factors that can help contribute towards the potential overall safety of a manufacturing plant. For example, ExxonMobil’s series of advanced NSF H1-registered food-grade lubricants, Mobil SHC Cibus™ and Mobil SHC Polyrex™ greases, are engineered to deliver reliable equipment protection in a diverse range of operating conditions. Ideal for a wide range of applications, such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical processing, and animal feed manufacturing, Mobil SHC Cibus lubricants are also suitable under Halal and Kosher dietary law and are designed to be gluten-, nut- and wheat-free.
Allergens are a topic that is becoming increasingly important in the food industry. Recently, ExxonMobil reviewed a portfolio of its food grade lubricants, and announced that all Mobil products which are NSF H1 registered do not contain the potential allergens referred to in regulation (EU) 1169/2011/CE. Products such as Mobil Gargoyle Arctic SHC™ series, Mobil Glygoyle™ series, Mobilgrease™ FM series, Mobil SHC Cibus series, and the Mobil SHC Polyrex series are formulated not to contain allergens like gluten, eggs, milk, nuts, fish, sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre expressed as SO2.
A few years ago, ExxonMobil was the first lubricant provider to achieve ISO 22000:2005 certification for facilities that manufacture NSF H1-registered lubricants. This accreditation was for facilities that produced the Mobil SHC Cibus series, and later expanded to include the Mobil SHC Polyrex series of synthetic greases and the Mobilgrease FM series of multi-purpose greases.
The ISO 22000 certification is one of the most stringent and comprehensive food and beverage safety standards. Established by the International Organization of Standardization, ISO 22000 is a food safety management system with a set of specified requirements that ensure a company’s ability to control food safety at every step of the manufacturing process. 
Designed to enhance food safety initiatives, the Mobil SHC Cibus series complies with Title 21 CFR 178.3570 of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lubricants with the potential for incidental food contact and are manufactured in facilities that meet the hygiene requirements of ISO 21469:2006.
In the context of the many challenges that accompany the strictly regulated food environment, lubricants are required to ensure optimum food safety as well as maximising equipment longevity and productivity.

References:
1 Official Journal of European Communities, ‘REGULATION (EC) No 178/2002 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL’, 2002, p. 2
2 MarketsandMarkets report, p. 36

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