Lubrication Evolution On Fast-Forward

By Richard Mitchell
Food-grade lubricants play a more important role as meat and poultry processors keep increasing productivity while demanding enhanced food safety.
Thanks to the meat and poultry industries' sharp focus on food safety and operating efficiencies, the evolution of enhanced food-grade lubricants is escalating.
Responding to packers and processors' interests in reducing both the costs associated with maintaining machinery and the risk of food contamination, lubricant manufacturers are developing greases that are intended to function longer than previous generations of products. Newer lubricants can withstand greater extremes of cold and heat and stronger blasts from high-pressure water hoses.
"Products are constantly being improved because the public is more concerned about the integrity of the food they are consuming," says Carter Anderson, central region manager for Behnke Lubricants Inc., a Milwaukee, WI-based developer of JAX-branded greases. "We are seeing lubricants evolve by leaps and bounds."
Lubricants typically are used in machinery to prevent or soften the metal-to-metal contact that causes wear and tear on apparatus. Federal laws require operators of food plants to use food-grade lubricants wherever there is the possibility of incidental food contact to minimize the risk of contamination.
Many choices
Vendors are developing lubricants for use on specific types of machinery and diverse conditions. Some products are formulated for gearboxes or hydraulic systems. Others are intended for equipment that operates under varying types of pressure.
Behnke markets more than 150 food-grade greases, and it began adding an antimicrobial additive — with the trade name of Micronox — to its lubricants in 2002 that is designed to "knock down" or kill bacteria, yeast, or mold colonies that form on machines.
Similar to most other food-grade products, the JAX lubricants are registered as H1 with Ann Arbor, MI-based NSF International. The designation indicates that the grease is approved by the Agriculture Department (USDA) and permitted for use in all federally inspected plants where there is the possibility of incidental food contact.
The NSF registration program replaced the authorization service for compounds that was run by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) until September 1998. The USDA at that time ceased inspecting chemical plants and gave packers and processors responsibility for selecting adequate lubricants for their facilities.
In 1999, the USDA introduced a new Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point (HACCP) system for meat and poultry plants that provided operators with several options to help them determine if suppliers' lubricants met food-safety requirements. Processors and packers could require chemical companies to disclose the entire formulation of their lubricants, or insist that the manufacturers provide letters of guarantee indicating that the greases are food grade.
A third method mandates that a third-party — NSF International — be used to validate the vendors' safety claims. A fourth option that was eliminated in 2002 requested that lubricant companies show proof that the USDA authorized their products as of 1998.
The NSF introduced its non-food compound registration program in 1999, and it now analyzes 18 types of chemical products used in meat and poultry facilities, including lubricants, water treatment products, and cleaners.
It reviews each ingredient for concentration and purity based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, and verifies that the label tags on products listing the components are accurate. Following a successful review, a registration letter is issued to the lubricant manufacturer, and the product name is posted on the NSF's Web site.
Greases are typically registered as either H1 or H2 for non-food contact lubricants. Almost 2,400 food-grade lubricants from 227 companies are designated H1, says Kenji Yano, NSF International program manager in the nonfood compound registration program.
While chemical companies are not required to have their greases registered by NSF International, many vendors say receiving the N1 designation from the not-for-profit organization is essential for establishing credibility with prospective customers. Indeed, some restaurants and supermarkets will only purchase products from processors that use lubricants registered as H1.
The growing popularity of food-grade greases is resulting in a registration upsurge, with H1 products comprising about 53 percent of NSF International's listing, Yano says.
"We have seen many new ingredients developed by the chemical industry over the last few years, which are enhancing the capabilities of the lubricants," he adds.
Meanwhile, international standards currently are being formulated to ensure companies that purchase lubricated machines from other parts of the world are using greases that meet their local guidelines for incidental product contact, says Beth Kloos, president of Haynes Manufacturing Co. — a Westlake, OH-based food-grade lubricant manufacturer, and a member of the committee drafting the global standards.
Haynes recently published a Lubricant Handbook that provides the latest information on regulatory issues, lubricant basics, lubricant selection, and troubleshooting. The company's newest lubricant is Haynes 500 Plus, a synthetic grease designed for use in extreme conditions and which provides resistance to water, steam, and chemicals.
Synthetic fluids, which are stronger and typically last much longer than mineral-based lubricants, are becoming increasingly popular. Synthetic blends often contain polyalfaolefin and minerals oils, which increase the oxidation abilities of the products, notes Jim Girard, vice president and general manager of the Lubriplate Lubricants unit of Newark, NJ-based Fiske Brothers Refining Co.
Lubriplate's most popular synthetic food-grade lubricant is SFGO Ultra 46, which is intended for use in rotary-screw air compressors and designed to alleviate users' concerns about toxic chemicals being discharged into plants.
Meanwhile, many manufacturers, including Keystone Lubricants, a division of Linden, NJ-based Total Lubricants USA, already are reporting a stronger demand for its synthetic products. The most recent addition to Keystone's Nevastane lubricant line, Nevastane SFG, contains a calcium-sulfinate complex thickener that withstands high and low temperatures, is more resistant to water, and can last two to three times longer than most mineral-based products, says Lance Landgraf, Total Lubricants manager of market development.
Nevastane SFG is designed to operate in temperatures of between 40Þ F below zero and 350Þ F. Having a single product, which functions under a wide range of conditions decreases the chance that an inappropriate lubricant would mistakenly be applied to a device, he notes.
Such product upgrades also will help to dispel the notion that food-grade lubricants are much less effective than general petroleum-based greases, adds Gary Frizzell, Keystone sales manager. "Food-grade greases have been giving better performance as there has been a push over the last few years to develop synthetics that are thicker, and will stay put in either high or low temperatures," he notes.
Continuous improvement needed
While some product users, such as Larry Patterson, maintenance manager for National Steak and Poultry, an Owasso, OK-based processor, agree that food-grade lubricants are becoming more potent, they also state that improvements need to continue.
"We still don't use food-grade products any more than we have to," he notes. "They don't lubricate as well as regular petroleum. Our hydraulic oil didn't hold up, and the grease didn't stay in the bearings. We use high-pressure hoses for sanitation, and it washes the food-grade lubricants right out, requiring us to apply new lubricants every day after sanitizing the plant."
Thus, National Steak and Poultry only applies food-grade white mineral oil to machines that are situated in areas where contamination risks are greater. Petroleum grease is applied to the rest of its equipment, including packaging devices.
To help dispel such attitudes, manufacturers of food-grade lubricants say they need to do a better job in educating potential customers on the attributes of synthetic products. Debbie Hodson, sector marketing manager for Houston-based Shell Lubricants, which produces a line of synthetic oils under the Cassida brand, says Shell is helping to promote its products by providing a critical control point survey of meat and poultry plants. Shell representatives inspect facilities and photograph equipment during surveys to determine if operators are applying the most effect grease to each device.
The developer also stresses the benefits of synthetic lubricants.
"Synthetic-based oil has man-made molecules, which are more stable," Hodson says. "We already have products for almost any application, but will see more synthetic greases being introduced in the future to overcome additional problems as they occur."
Though synthetics often have a price tag that is double that of mineral-based lubricants, a growing customer base is leading vendors to develop additional products.
Tulsa, OK-based CITGO Petroleum Corp. already was offering more than 30 food-grade greases with a wide range of viscosity under the Clarion and Duoprime brands when it launched its first synthetic product last year — a food-grade, fire-resistant hydraulic oil.
CITGO's products are typically targeted at different market niches. Clarion CompressorGard FG, for instance, is low-temperature grease intended for use in rotary-screw compressors. It is designed to separate from water and resist oxidation, and is compatible with the seal material normally used in compressor systems.
Clarion A/W hydraulic oils are intended for medium-pressure hydraulic and circulating systems, including gearboxes, compressors, chains and belts, and used for the general lubrication of machinery that processes, packages, or transports food. And Clarion HTEP, a high-temperature, extreme pressure and water-resistant grease, was designed to reduce wear and resist rust and oxidation in food processing and packaging machinery.
"There is a need to provide lubricants that have the guts to do the job, but which also meet the requirements for food safety, so there must be a balancing act," says Kelly Eaves, CITGO product specialist.
Effective additives
The emphasis on food safety also has manufacturers searching for the most effective additives. While CITGO uses white mineral oils, Minneapolis-based Cargill Industrial Lubricants formulates its hydraulic fluids and greases with vegetable oils, including canola and sunflower oils. These natural ingredients are more easily broken down in plants' waste-water treatment facilities, and they comply with the USDA's proposed bio-based purchasing initiative which emphasizes the use of biodegradable oils to help reduce petroleum imports, says Luis del Valle, Cargill marketing director.
Cargill's newest product, Novus Food Grade Hydraulic Oil, is a vegetable-based lubricant intended for use on hydraulic pumps. The company also produces food-grade gear oil, and del Valle and other lubricant providers project that additional niche applications will continually be developed as more players enter the market.
JSH Industries LLC, a Chambersburg, PA-based vendor specializing in injecting bearings with lubricants, has released six food-grade greases since starting operations in 1995.
With food safety becoming critically important to packers and processors, as well as consumers, lubricant manufacturers offering products that promise greater machine performance with reduced health risks are in position to leverage an increasingly lucrative landscape. NP

Richard Mitchell is a freelance
writer in the Chicago area.
Unique products for many applications
Debbie Hodson, marketing manger for Shell Lubricants, discusses Shell's Cassida line of lubricants with The NATIONAL PROVISIONER:
NP: Describe the Cassida line.
Hodson: Cassida is Shell's line of synthetic lubricants. It includes 56 products with about 25 offered in the United States. They were made for a variety of industries, and to function in different kinds of atmospheres and environments, including wet, cold, and hot, as well as with high-speed equipment. Each product also is registered by NSF International and has kosher approval.
NP: What benefits does Cassida offer to the meat and poultry industry?
Hodson: The most unique challenge for the industry is operating in an environment where everything is washed down. When you use high-pressure hoses, you can spray the lubricant right off of the machinery so you need lubricants that are resistant to water, and that is what we developed at Shell. Because they are synthetic, the Cassida products provide users with as much as three times the lubricant life compared to mineral oil food-grade lubricants. This results in maintenance cost reductions because plants do not have to shut down equipment to relubricate.
NP: How does the Cassida line differ from the competition?
Hodson: Cassida features a specific product for almost every application. Much of the line was created in conjunction with original equipment manufacturers so we were able to identify all the typical problems plant operators face and then develop products to handle each problem.
Suppliers of food-grade lubricants include:
Behnke Lubricants Inc./JAX
W134 N5373 Campbell Dr.
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051
Phone: (262) 781-8550; (800) 782-8850
Fax: (262) 781-3906
Web site:
Contact: Carter Anderson
JSH Industries, LLC
5110 Technology Ave.
Chamberburg, PA 17201
Phone: (717) 267-3566
Fax: (717) 267-0119
Web site:
Contact: Sam Hopple
Cargill Industrial Lubricants
Box 5700, MS66
Minneapolis, MN 55440
Phone: (800) 842-3631
Fax: (952) 742-6722
Web site:
Contact: Luis del Valle
Keystone Lubricants
Total Lubricants US
5 N. Stiles St.
Linden, NJ 07306-0001
Phone: (800) 344-2241
Fax: (908) 862-6885
Web site:
Contact: Gary Frizze
CITGO Petroleum Corp.
P.O. Box 3758
Tulsa, OK 74102
Phone: (918) 495-5247
Fax: (713) 321-4125
Web site:
Contact: Charlene Smith
Lubriplate Lubricants
129 Lockwood St.
Newark, NJ 07105
Phone: (973) 465-5700: (800)733-4755
Fax: (973) 465-5736
Web site:
Contact: Jim Girard

Ecolab Inc.
Food and Beverage Division
370 Wabasha St. N.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Phone: (651) 293-2233; (800) 392-3392
Fax: (651) 293-2260
Web site:
Contact: Terri Bringold
Precision Plus Vacuum Parts Inc.
2055 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14304
Phone: (716) 297-2039; (800) 526-2707
Fax: (716) 297-8210
Web site:
Contact: Mike Wills

Haynes Manufacturing C
24142 Detroit Rd.
Westlake, OH 44145
Phone: (800) 992-2166
Fax: (440) 871-0855
Web site:
Contact: Tammy Doctor

Shell Oil Products USA
700 Milam
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (800) 64-LUBES
Web site:
Contact: Debbie Hodson
Food-grade lubrication solutions

Mystik® food-grade lubricants take the mystery out of what to choose for your lubrication needs.
Citgo Petroleum Corp., Tulsa, OK, offers a wide range of food-grade lubricants needed to keep high-speed processing plants humming along. Here's what's offered in Citgo's Mystik® food-grade lubricants line:
• Mystik FG/FM Food machinery Oils are blended with exceptional quality, high viscosity index, paraffinic Food Grade White Mineral Oils, refined by ultra-high pressure hydrotreatment, and stabilized with a Vitamin E oxidation inhibitor. These products are available in five viscosity levels. Mystik FG/FM Food Machinery Oils are blended with Food Grade White Mineral Oils that exceed the requirements of Food and Drug Administration regulations 21 CFR 172.878 for use in or on food for human consumption, and 21 CFR 178.3620 (a) for use as a component of non-food articles intended for use in contact with food for human consumption. Mystik FG/FM Food Machinery Oils are excellent general-purpose, food-grade oils that can be used for machinery that process, package, or transport food for human consumption, and more. They can also be used as plasticizers for rubber used on conveyor belts, hoses, and rollers, and as a lubricant cleaner and rust preventive for food-processing machinery.
• Mystik FG/AW Food Machinery Oils lubricate food processing equipment and deep-well turbine water pumps. They are formulated with a high-purity white mineral oil stabilized with Vitamin E oxidation inhibitor. Products are available in four ISO viscosity grades. Mystik FG/AW Food Machinery Oils are colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-staining lubricants. These oils use an additive system that provides protection against rust, oxidation and wear. Mystik FG/AW Food Machinery Oils exceed the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration Regulation 21 CFR 178.3570 for lubricants with the possibility of incidental contact with food for human consumption, and are registered as H1 lubricants for incidental food contact by NSF for use in food plants under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. These general-purpose lubricants are for machinery that process, package, or transport food for human consumption.
• Mystik® FG-2 effectively lubricates most machinery used to manufacture, process, package, and store food products. It is not suited for the high-temperatures of steam-flow canning. The approximate temperature range of the NLGI No. 2 grease is 0Þ F to 275Þ F. Mystik FG-2 is very resistant to water washout and is water soluble. The texture is smooth, buttery, and adhesive. The grease has a neutral, mild petroleum odor, and the color is clear with a slight cloud. No pigments are used; the grease is non-staining. Applications include food processing and packaging machinery where there is a possibility of incidental contact.
• Mystik® HT-FG Supreme Food Machinery Grease is a high-temperature polymer-fortified food machinery grease with excellent EP and antiwear performance. It is engineered specifically for food processing and packaging machinery, is rust and oxidation inhibited, and is water insoluble. It is also very resistant to water washout. This product has superior high-temperature performance and good adhesion properties. The approximate temperature range of this grease is 10Þ F to 325Þ F. It has a neutral mild petroleum odor and is non-staining.
For more information, call John Frick at (918) 495-5929, or log onto