Eddy Stempfel of Shell Lubricants answers some frequently asked questions on food industry lubrication issues.
“There is no global legislation covering the use of H1 and H2 lubricants, but it has become industry standard to promote their use as a minimum in the correct applications”
What is the difference between H1 and H2 lubricants?
Eddy Stempfel: Lubricants are mainly classified as either category H1 or H2 depending on their composition and intended application. Both categories must contain non-toxic ingredients and are designed to help food processors improve plant hygiene and food safety by reducing the risk of chemical contaminants.
H1 lubricants are deemed suitable for incidental, technically unavoidable contact with food and beverage products. They must be developed using ingredients approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its 21 CFR 178.3570 or Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) guidelines, which includes polyalphaolefins, linear, random polyalkalene glycols and some synthetic base fluids like silicones and perfluoroalkylethers.
H1 registration certifies lubricants as indirect food additives as long as they do not exceed the maximum permitted level of 10 parts per million (one ppm for silicone oils) in foodstuff. They are often applied throughout machinery components where there is a high-risk of lubricant contact with food including gearboxes, pumps, chains and conveyors.
H2 lubricants are deemed fit for use in equipment and applications where there is no risk of lubricant contact with food or beverage. The lubricants do not need to include 21 CFR 178.3570 listed ingredients, but must comply with Section 5.1 of the NSF Registration Guidelines which prohibit the use of carcinogens, mineral acids, mutagens, odorous substances, teratogens and any intentionally added heavy metals.
There is no global legislation covering the use of H1 and H2 lubricants, but it has become industry standard to promote their use as a minimum in the correct applications.
Through our work with some of the sector's leading Original Equipment Manufacturers and customers around the globe, Shell Lubricants have noticed a growing trend of operators completely switching to H1 lubricants. This decision is being driven by two factors; a growing awareness that it is almost impossible to guarantee incidental lubricant contact will not occur in supposedly lower-risk areas and the fact that the vast majority of synthetic H1 lubricants can significantly outperform their mineral oil based (or standard) H2 counterparts.
To meet this market demand Shell Lubricants have developed its H1 approved synthetic food grade lubricant range, Shell Cassida. The lubricants are formulated using a range of synthetic additives and base fluids to ensure they are colourless, tasteless and odourless. As well as minimising the risk of food contamination (in accordance with the US FDA's maximum permitted level for NSF H1 lubricant contact), Shell Cassida provides fit-for-purpose viscosity and oxidation at a range of high and low operating temperatures and loads.
If a company is planning on upgrading to a higher performance lubricant, how can it ensure it gets the best from this new product given the extra initial expenditure?
ES: Selecting the correct lubricant for an application and investing in a high performance product can go a long way to reducing these risks, but to ensure that the very best is achieved from the investment, a proactive and informed approach to lubrication management needs to be implemented.
Once the correct lubricants are selected, Shell can help monitor the effectiveness of products and provide accurate and timely information on the condition of the oil and equipment using its Shell LubeAnalyst service. Focused on simplicity and a quick diagnosis, Shell LubeAnalyst involves the site operator taking oil samples and sending them off to a Shell laboratory for analysis where a detailed diagnostic report is produced. Regular oil analysis can save time and maintenance expense by highlighting the presence of contaminants or product degradation along with early signs of mechanical wear.
Eddy Stempfel is Product Application Specialist and Local Research and Development Team Leader, Food and Beverage Sector, at Shell Lubricants.