How Is Stainless Steel Used In The Food Industry?
An overview of stainless steel applications in the food industry
The durable and flexible stainless steel is not only an important part of the domestic kitchen but also plays an enormous role in food industries as machine components. Steel also has a colossal presence in the dairy industry, confectionery, beer & winemaking, meat processing industries, and many more. An estimated 30% of stainless steel produced worldwide goes into the food industry. This attributes to the surging demands for quality steel products and good design in the steel fabrication industry.
If you wish to know more, continue reading the article that reviews a few benefits of steel in the food industry, their applications, and a few tips regarding the steel grades ideal for food industries.
Benefits and application of steel in the food industry
Top metal fabrication Singapore caters to various food industry demands and produces customized steel products for their clients. Besides the intrinsic metal properties and the long life of fabricated steel products, there are many more benefits in using stainless products in the food industry. Some of the top benefits are:
- Stainless steel is strong and can endure shocks & abrasions
- The sturdy alloy shines even after multiple uses and has an incredibly long life
- Stainless steel is inert to acids and alkalis and can handle multiple food items without damaging the food.
- The corrosion-resistant feature prevents the contamination of food items and keeps them fresh for a long time
- Excellent fabrication enables easy cleaning and thereby preventing the bacterial formation
- Stainless steel products are immensely strong and can endure scratches or dents even in aggressive conditions.
- Steel products are unbreakable and can withstand high heat & fire.
Various steel grades and their application in the food and dairy industry
Check Out – Stainless steel products have all qualities that make them suitable for food industries. Excellent endurance to high temperatures and the ability to remain harmless when in direct contact with food makes stainless steel the most suitable product for the food industry. Here are a few stainless steel grades that are widely used in the food manufacturing industries
- ➤ 420 (Martensitic): Used to manufacture spatulas and knives
- ➤ 304 (austenitic): Used in the production of machinery parts, pipelines, bowls, and vats
- ➤ 316(austenitic): Used in handling corrosive food items like meat, and salt-content foods
- ➤ 430 (Austenitic): Used to make equipment cladding, tabletops, and panels exposed to a mildly corrosive environment.
- ➤ 1.4539 (Duplex): Used with highly corrosive food items like hot brine with solids, and slow-moving salty foods
While multiple grade types cater to different food manufacturing needs, cleaning and sanitation undoubtedly play a deciding role in selecting suitable stainless steel types in the industry. Here are a few considerations that must be given during the stainless steel grade selection.
Stainless steel grade selection and care tips
Corrosion resistance qualities
Corrosion in metals is oxidation. It is a process in which oxygen reacts with the metal in the presence of water to form a non-reactive material called rust. Rust ruins the surface of metals and compromises their structural stability. Stainless steel is mixed with Chromium to resist the corrosion process and prevent the formation of rust. This property makes stainless steel perfect for the food industry. Chromium builds a barrier on the surface with its highly reactive nature and prevents the internal structure from rusting. The food industry widely makes use of two stainless steel types:
304 stainless steel: The steel has excellent anti-corrosion property suitable for storing and processing food items. The chromium content in 304-stainless steel is 16 to 24 per cent.
316-stainless steel: Quite similar to the 304-stainless steel type, this steel has a presence of 2 to 4 per cent of Molybdenum in addition to Chromium. This steel type is suitable for salt content food and meat products.
Attention to smooth and dent free fabrication
Great attention must be paid to the design and installation of steel structures. Crevices and cracks are the breeding ground for bacteria and necessitate the need to manufacture steel products that are smooth or provided with round or square tubing.
Protection of steel surfaces from cleaning agents
While stainless steel can withstand various abrasive materials and cleaning agents, Hypochlorite must be avoided on steel surfaces. This cleaning agent can deter passivation and can damage the structure of steel. Iodine, ammonium, and Nitric acid are safer to use on stainless steel. Extra caution must be exercised during the stainless steel fabrication to avoid mixing non-stainless steel metals. Mixing up carbon steel and aluminium can contaminate the steel surfaces that may ruin their surfaces.
Steel fabrication requires expertise and adequate skills to carry out operations. Hence, the industries must ensure that proper training and procedures are in place during the fabrication process.