If a lubricant can come in contact with the process food then a food grade lubricant must be used! Equipment OEM's will specify recommended lubricants. and this can typically be found in the OEM equipment manual. In the event a specified lubricant is NOT food grade, it is good practice to find an alternative food grade lubricant.
In the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, Issue 7, clause 4.7.6, states that "Materials used for equipment and plant maintenance and that pose a risk by direct or indirect contact with raw materials, intermediate and finished products, such as lubricating oil, shall be food grade and of known allergen status." A food grade lubricant is designed to meet standards set forth by the NSF H1 program and is used on process equipment in a food facility where there is a possibility of contact with the food being produced.
When selecting a food grade lubricant, it is important to obtain a declaration or document from the food grade lubricant supplier that the product adheres to BRC Issue 7, clause 4.7.6 and is "food grade and of known allergen status". If a lubricant is manufactured in a facility that may contain allergens, then all associated information and risks must be documented and maintained on site.
When selecting a food grade lubricant, it is important to obtain a declaration or document from the food grade lubricant supplier that the product adheres to BRC Issue 7, clause 4.7.6 and is "food grade and of known allergen status". If a lubricant is manufactured in a facility that may contain allergens, then all associated information and risks should be documented and maintained on site. To avoid mixing non-food grade and food grade lubricants, be sure to identify and separate food grade lubricants in "lube room" storage.
5. Use common proper methods of application of food grade lubricants
Where possible, when applying lubricants to equipment follow procedures and frequencies set out by equipment manufacturers. Methods of application include manual, automatic, brush, spray, drip, continuous, and timed application. Some methods have advantages over others. When selecting a method of application factors to consider include OEM recommendation, pitch of chain, speed of chain, and if automatic application during operation is required. It is important to ensure that when applying lubricant proper amounts are applied. Over application can leads to excess and/or flooding. Best practices should ensure that lubricant does not come in contact with food and that any spillage is contained and absorbed in safe manners and areas are left free of lubricating equipment.
Although most food grade lubricants are not classified as hazardous, proper disposal is a must. Many food processing plants are still using industrial grade lubricants (we hope you are not!!) such as graphite, and these hazardous lubricants definitely require Sanitation and Maintenance departments to follow safe disposal procedures.
BRC guidelines suggest that each food plant have a dedicated area marked "Waste Oil Only" that is separate from unused lubricants, greases and oil storage areas. In addition, when disposing of empty lubricant and aerosol containers local, provincial/state and federal guidelines must be adhered to.
Along with Allergen statements, it is important to keep the most up to date documentation of ALL food grade lubricants used in your facility. Collect the latest Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Technical Data Sheets (SDS). Often, plant personnel only focus on having the latest SDS and Allergen Statements, but a good practice is to also have the Technical Data Sheets available also. This documentation should be stored both in hard copy and electronic soft copy. It is a great practice to set quarterly reminders to reach out to lubricant suppliers for the most recent documentation. Don't wait for an audit! Create an Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and make sure you are up to date and not relying on your supplier at the 11th hour.