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Finding the best sealing materials for Food Grade Applications

You will find rubber seals across various industries, providing an important element and operating as a vital fixing across a wide range of different applications and equipment.  However, these FDA gaskets must follow strict, set guidelines, in terms of their material...

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Finding the best sealing materials for Food Grade Applications

FInding the best sealing materials for Food Grade ApplicationsYou will find rubber seals across various industries, providing an important element and operating as a vital fixing across a wide range of different applications and equipment. 

However, these FDA gaskets must follow strict, set guidelines, in terms of their material makeup and their use in specific applications. 

This is indeed the case for all food-grade applications, which ultimately state that all rubber seals used in these sectors and industries must be FDA approved. 

FDA grade gaskets mean they must follow a strict set of guidelines and FDA regulations, be non-toxic, and follow chemical compatibility guidelines. 

Rigorous testing on FDA approved gaskets is carried out for them to meet the demands of all food processing applications. 

In this post, we look at the best sealing materials for food-grade applications and things you should specifically consider when looking for the best FDA seals and gaskets. 

FDA Rubber Material – able to handle even the toughest of environments 

Within the food industry, seals, and sealing and containing food in a first-class, high-quality condition, is essential. 

Seal failure in the food and beverage industry can result in foods and products becoming spoiled, costing companies considerable time and money. 

This is why rubber seals and the rubber materials used in food applications need to be: 

  • Odourless 
  • Resistant to a build-up of bacteria 
  • Non-allergenic 
  • Tasteless 
  • Compatible with all chemicals used in the application 
  • Able to withstand a variety of temperatures 
  • Non-toxic 

Not all rubber materials offer the same solutions 

Not all rubber seals are made using the same materials, which in turn creates a range of rubber seals available with a variety of capabilities. 

Due to the nature of food applications, you need the right seal and the material for the job. 

The most popular FDA approved rubber seals, chosen for the food-grade application industry, meeting exact requirements to ensure purity, include: 

Nitrile

Extremely resistant to water, Nitrile seals are also resistant to silicone grease, petroleum-based oils and fuels, and hydraulic fuels and alcohol.  Nitrile seals are a great solution for those in the food and beverage sector as these seals can also provide a low compression set, they have a high resistance to abrasion, and they offer a high level of strength. 

Nitrile is one of the most established seals. 

PTFE 

These seals are often found in food mixers, pumps, valves, flanged joints, piping, and more.  This is because PTFE seals can resist chemical attacks, and they operate well under a range of fluctuating temperatures. 

These FDA flange gaskets are ideal for sealing those non-metallic flanges and used in applications where bolt loads are limited. 

Silicone 

Silicone seals or FDA Elastomeric seals are suitable for a wide range of fluctuating temperatures for elastomers providing the very best in chemical resistance. 

FDA approved, some silicone material seals can prevent the growth of e-Coli, MRSA, and salmonella – making it a highly suitable sealing material that can be vital in food applications. 

What’s more, silicone is non-toxic, offers low chemical reactivity, and thermal stability making it a popular choice for food and medical manufacturers. 

Silicone seals also provide an extended service life, and they have one of the broadest operating temperature ranges, with food-grade silicone ensuring foreign substances do not contaminate any foods. 

EPDM 

EPDM material seals provide the elements of odourless and tasteless, while also offering flexibility, resistance to solvents and acids, and these seals work well in more reliable temperature ranges. 

FKM 

Ideal if you require a rubber seal that can handle higher processing temperatures for longer exposure time.  

Found in mechanical devices that demand optimum resistance to high temperatures and liquids, these Viton material gaskets can resist thousands of different chemicals, offer stability, can withstand high temperatures, and provide low outgassing in vacuum-sealing applications. 

Helping to reduce downtime, with FKM seals, there is also very low extraction, reducing the chance of food contamination.  Great for those more dynamic applications. 

Challenges of seal choice for food applications 

Health and Safety – all sealing materials must meet strict health and safety guidelines and standards before they can be used in food applications.  

Seals must be stable and neutral – this relates to the guideline that ensures seals are tasteless and odourless, helping to ensure nothing untoward comes into contact with food ingredients or products.  To achieve this, these seals and gaskets must be stable, not releasing any unwanted contaminants into the product stream. 

Processing conditions – food processes and procedures range and vary considerably.  Ranging from varying temperatures and pressures etc.  In this sense, seals need to be able to handle these variations, including cleanability. 

Cleanability – is a big challenge in food applications.  Food applications and equipment need to be cleaned regularly using strong chemical disinfectants, steam, etc.  Because of this, sealing materials need to be compatible with supporting these regimes. 

Specialist Sealing Products can provide a range of seals and gaskets for food applications in a range of materials, and our team is on hand to help find the right solution to your application. 

There is a range of FDA grade seals available in the market, and it’s important to find the right one for your application. 

Purchasing industrial sealings from a reputable supplier, ensuring that all seals are FDA compliant, is the first start. 

To find out more, call us on 01535 274 776.

Read the next article: Gaskets and seals for Aerospace

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