Food Grade Stainless Steel Selection Guide

The food processing industry must meet strict standards and regulations for health and safety. As more and more facilities are implementing automated machinery and components for faster production, this equipment must be constructed from food-safe materials and finishes.

Food-grade stainless steel offers an optimal material choice for the food industry. Available in various grades, the many beneficial properties and features of stainless steel ensure that all food safety and hygiene standards are met, making it ideal for a wide range of food applications.

Stainless Steel Features & Benefits for the Food Industry

Stainless steel is a popular material choice for food handling applications for a multitude of reasons. Not only can the material withstand harsh temperatures, but its protective oxide layer protects against the formation of rust that could lead to food contamination. One of the most important attributes of food-grade stainless steel is that it contains no dangerous chemicals that could transfer into foods.

Other features and benefits that make stainless steel a good choice for the food industry include:

  • Great corrosion resistance
  • Extreme strength
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Non-reactive surface
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Impermeable surface to prevent contamination
  • Available in various finishes
  • Chemical and bacterial neutrality
  • Made to handle frequent cleanings with harsh detergents
  • Does not retain or transfer food smells

Choosing the Best Stainless Steel Food Grade for Your Application

While there are several types of stainless steel available, only a few are considered food-grade. Nearly all food-grade stainless steels come from the 300 and 400 series, including:

  • 304 Grade Stainless Steel. 304 stainless steel offers an affordable option for nearly any food processing environment. It can withstand corrosion from several oxidizing acids, meaning it is easy to sanitize. It also boasts great weldability and formability, allowing it to be manufactured into various types of food processing equipment. Common applications for 304 stainless steel include storage tanks, fermentation vats, dishwashers, and more.
  • 316 Grade Stainless Steel. 316 stainless steel is an austenitic alloy with high nickel and chromium content. Similar to other steel alloys, it can be continuously used at temperatures significantly higher than most food handling processes require. This grade is also resistant to chlorides (such as salt), alkalis, and acids, making it great for nearly any food application.
  • 430 Grade Stainless Steel. This material has equal chromium content to grade 316 but only a fraction of the nickel content, making it a more cost-effective alternative for food processors. 430 grade stainless steel is highly resistant to organic and nitric acids, meaning it is often found in applications involving extended contact with mildly acidic compounds. This material is also resistant to oxidation, sulfur, and corrosion cracking.

Common Applications

Various applications within the food and beverage industry depend on food-grade stainless steel. Stainless steel is preferred over other materials in the following applications:

  • Beer kegs
  • Confectionary equipment
  • Conveyor systems
  • Double-wall transport containers
  • Evaporator tubes
  • Flour silos
  • Food mixers
  • Food pulverizers
  • Ice cream molds
  • Industrial ovens
  • Peeling machines
  • Syrup tanks
  • Tanks holding dairy

Contact AAA Metals for Premium Stainless Steel Metal Solutions

Food-grade stainless steel is ideal for various food processing applications, offering corrosion and heat resistance, durability, neutrality, and ease of sanitization. AAA Metals has been supplying and processing stainless steel and other metals since 1978. We offer various stainless steel materials for the food industry, including food-grade stainless steel sheets, pipes, and precision-cut pieces for your desired application. In addition, we offer in-house capabilities such as finishing, polishing, shearing, precision sawing, and waterjet cutting.

For more information about stainless steel for the food industry, or to learn more about our offerings, contact us or request a quote today.

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