According to a 2010 report by the Australian Department of Health, there are on average around 4.2 million cases of foodborne illness each year and out of those, a reported 32,000 hospitalisations lead to around 86 deaths. That’s 86 people every year who die needlessly!
As a result the food industry has been under increasing pressure to implement tighter food safety controls with companies facing massive fines and even individual imprisonment if they are found in breach of these laws. In essence, cleanliness is more important than ever. Because of this, stainless steel has become the number one choice of material in the food and beverage industry as it helps to combat many of the factors listed below.
Usually the most corrosive areas of any food and beverage producing facilities are the wash down areas. The Department of Health issued revised regulations in light of the findings above to include higher wash down temperatures and stronger chemicals to kill any remaining bacteria. While chemical mixes can vary across the industry, they all contain substances which are highly corrosive.
In addition food in itself can be highly corrosive as any natural acids found within may also lead to corrosion. This is true particularly of foods with a low Ph and include;
Moreover, some foods contain chemical ingredients such as flavour enhancers, acid regulators, and preservatives. These can also be corrosive in nature. Finally, organic acids, that is those found naturally in foods – such as lactic acid, acetic acid, citric acid and formic acid, all have corrosive capability.
While other materials will suffer at the hands of such harsh corrosive treatment, the properties of stainless steel provide superior resistance.
Other catalysts for corrosion include evaporation, heat and moisture – all pretty standard in the food and beverage industry. Temperatures in dairy production for instance can reach as high as 130 degrees Celsius and in other facilities, rapid cooling or steam heating are commonplace. Again, it’s been proven that stainless steel stands up to rapid heating and cooling very well.
It’s easy for food particles to become trapped in tiny spaces such as cracks, recesses or chips. If not removed they can spread bacteria which can lead to food or beverage contamination. In addition, when food comes into contact with some surfaces it’s possible that certain non-metallic materials such as plastic, rubber, and paints can leach into food products again, causing contamination.
To counteract this, a smooth, non-absorbent metallic surface will help to prevent both contamination and leaching. Typically, the exact same properties found in stainless steel.
Stainless Steel Benefits
While stainless steel is known for its anti-contamination, anti-corrosive and anti-leaching properties, this super-metal also has other mechanical benefits. It has superb strength and ductility (the ability to flex without rupture) when being exposed to both high and low temperatures and the bright highly-polished neutral surface means that it won’t cause leaching.
Finally, what about the cost of stainless-steel equipment?
While the initial cost may be higher, it may save a company more in scrapped production batches due to contamination; that’s before we even mention the possibility of penalty fines, regulatory issues and plant shutdowns. So in reality, stainless steel is a sound long-term investment that may potentially saves the lives of dozens of individuals.
To find out more about how stainless steel materials can help your business, or if you would like to discuss your next project, contact our experienced team at Metro Steel today.