Quality is critical when it comes to prototyping and producing metal components for foodservice applications—especially when they serve some of the largest food production and packaging companies in the world.
Welds for food-grade stainless steel applications have an important job—keeping our food safe. The following addresses food-grade applications, specific equipment and regulations to consider when working with welders on these important applications.
APPLICATIONS & EQUIPMENT
Food grade refers to surfaces that have a sanitary finish. It’s critical that these surfaces are 100 percent welded and do not in any way promote bacteria growth. They must be free of grooves, pits, divots, holes, pinholes or craters, and can stand potential corrosion from food processing and heavy-duty cleaning. Some examples of equipment you’d find in this industry range from industrial ovens and fryers to food processing devices, bottling equipment, vacuum sealers, safety enclosures and more.
Mike DiStaulo, president and CEO of All-Type Welding and Fabrication, Inc., provides a real-world explanation for this type of weld.
This particular weldment is a structural subframe component for a food-grade base of equipment. This is made for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that builds equipment for the food industry. This piece is fully welded; it's not a part that would be near any food, beverage or fluids in the machinery, but it’s in the same assembly. It needs to be completely devoid of divots or craters and has to be clean and compliant for food applications.
In this type of equipment, the center-most part of the operation is the cleanest. As you get closer to the area of the machine that processes food, those welds must be completely polished and devoid of pockets that would encourage a contaminant to grow. These pieces of equipment are regularly washed down with strong cleaning chemicals to kill bacteria. Beyond protein processing, applications that process dairy and pharmaceuticals must have all welding completely polished and smooth.
Welders should be well versed in the regulations associated with the foodservice industry. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) heavily regulate this process to keep food safe. Here’s an abbreviated version of how each of these agencies is helping to regulate food safety.
FDA – An agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA is in charge of making sure that foods, cosmetics and electronic products are safe, and that human and veterinary drugs, biological products and medical devices are safe and effective.
With regard to manufacturing and food processing, the FDA monitors the action of filters utilized in the manufacturing of food and beverage products, describing the materials that are permissible for food contact and methods for determining the characteristics of the materials.
NSF – NSF International is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that sets the standards for development, product certification, education and risk management for public health and safety for food, water, indoor air and the environment. Customers involved with municipal drinking water, residential water treatment and food and beverage manufacturing will sometimes request NSF-certified products.
HOW WE CAN HELP
ATWF is a trusted partner of OEMs and can create seamless welds when working with challenging materials to prototype and produce metal components for any of your foodservice applications. Contact us for more information on how we can help meet demanding specs on food-grade metal fabrication and welding jobs of all varieties.