Determining which standard of “Food-Grade” coating your equipment should comply with can be confusing.

FDA LogoWhat does it mean to be Food-Grade?
Food grade means that the material is either it is okay to come into direct contact with food products or the substance is safe for human consumption.

What does Food Safe mean?
Food safe means that a Food-Grade material is also suitable for its intended use and will not create a food-safety hazard.

What are Food Contact Surfaces?
A food contact surface is any surface that may come into direct contact with food. Food contact surfaces are made of food-safe materials designed to withstand the environment where they will be used. This includes exposure to cleaning compounds, sanitizing agents and cleaning procedures.

What does GRAS stand for?
GRAS is a substance that is Generally Recognized as Safe. These are materials that can be safely used for articles and surfaces that come into direct contact with food under normal, Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP).

How do I know which type of standards my product needs?

One place to start when figuring out if you need a coating that is GRAS, Food-Grade, or Food-Safe coating for your product is to know which type of contact your product makes with the food you’re working with or around. When dealing with the world of food, the regulations can get specific as a safety precaution against potentially consuming something that may cause someone to get sick.

This is partly why there are Three Types of Food Contact.

Direct Contact substances are those that directly touch, or contact, food. This may lead to the creation of direct or indirect food additives.

Indirect contact Substances might come in contact with food, such as on the outside of food packaging; such as a sealed packaging or a carton.

Incidental contact substances are those that rarely contact food and the contact is not purposeful or continuous. For example, food that contacts an extraneous part of a food processing machine where contact is not expected is considered incidental.

If your product falls in the Direct Contact description you may have noticed that your product may or may not be considered a potential food “additive”. What do you mean I could be creating a food additive?

Thankfully there are only two types of food additives recognized by the FDA.

Generally, they define an additive as:any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly, in its becoming a component of, or otherwise affecting the characteristic of any food including any substance intended for use in… packing…or holding food…”

This just means that whether or not you mean to, your product or coating might get added to the food you are helping to produce or manufacture. The USDA and FDA make this part easy as they both manage different aspects of potential food-related contact. Think of them as two separate sides of the same coin.

  • The most common type of FDA-approved coatings are intended to come into direct or indirect contact with food substances.
  • USDA approved coatings will typically be wall and floor coatings. The latter type—especially floor coatings—is specifically formulated to handle the extreme cleaning conditions that are usually present in a food and beverage facility.

When it comes to direct contact with food or working in and around a food production facility a little bit of knowledge about your coating needs goes a long way. Whether your product requires a Food-Grade, Food-Safe, or even Generally Recognized as safe we’ve got you, and your product, covered.

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