The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awards Food Grade certification to food manufacturers, and to manufacturers of equipment and surfaces used in the food industry. This certification process is aimed at guaranteeing public health safety. Food products that meet FDA standards receive a label with a Food Grade identifier.
What Is Food Grade Only?
Food Grade Food
Food products undergo a complex array of FDA processes and regulations before regulators deem them edible. The FDA applies testing procedures to the food ingredients and any additives such as preservatives, colorants, and flavorings. Regulators examine the food to check for its standard of purity as well as determine the properties of what is in it. This is done to ensure it is safe enough for human consumption. Nowadays, the FDA states food packaging must warn consumers of possible dangers that can trigger ailments and allergies as a result of the additives in products.
Food Grade Equipment
Any surface that food may come into contact with during production is subject to regulation. This includes the surface of machines, as well as any counter surfaces that touch the food. This process is vital as it ensures manufacturers are producing food in a sanitary environment with food grade materials.
FDA regulations are also in place to ensure consumers will be able to cook the product to the temperature range the supplier recommends. Both undercooked and overcooked food can pose serious health risks. Food equipment, commercial countertops, and other food grade products are typically made from stainless steel. This is because it is safe for food to come into contact with. However, FDA regulations specify a standard of hygiene they require for cleaning equipment and other surfaces upon coming in contact with food products.
Food Grade distinction importance
Although food grade equipment is not cheap, manufacturers may introduce cheaper, non-food grade components into their designs to lower manufacturing costs. Whether they do so inadvertently or by design, ignoring the food grade regulations can put the public at risk. For some, it might seem that the regulations are overbearing. However, one small, even seemingly insignificant component can cause major problems. For example, a low-grade silicone-o ring may leak when the consumer heats the product. Therefore, to ensure food safety, all equipment designs must comply with sanitary and hygiene design stipulations.
Food Grade vs Food Safe
Some people might think that food grade and food safe labels are interchangeable. However, there does happen to be a difference. The food grade identifier means compliance with the stipulations for equipment, equipment surfaces, and countertop surfaces within the production process. On the other hand, the food safe identifier is attributed to materials that pose no dangerous effects on the end-user.
Furthermore, food grade contains details of the production temperature or environment needed to ensure the integrity of the material used in the equipment will not be affected. The FDA doesn’t require these specifications for food safe materials. For example, regulators will consider a plastic container that cannot withstand high temperatures as food safe, however, it is not compliant with the criteria for the food grade status.
We often lament what we perceive as overregulation. However, in the case of food it could be the case of the more the merrier, as we unthinkingly eat heartily.
Additional Information: Determining the Regulatory Status of a Food Ingredient – U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
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