Many people don’t know that rubber plays a huge role in the food industry, and that is where FDA-approved gaskets come in. When it comes to handling food, you’ve got to be extremely careful. Anything that you are putting into your body has to be free from contamination, because if it isn’t, it can be extremely harmful to a person. This is why the food industry relies heavily on food-grade rubber and, in particular, food-grade silicone.
To safeguard people against contaminated food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) puts a major emphasis on vetting the materials that are used in its handling, preparation, preservation and packaging. The guidelines for FDA-approved gaskets, made from food-grade rubber, are laid out in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 21 – FDA 21 CFR 177.2600.
Unless you already know what it is, many people are baffled when they see the FDA 21 CFR 177.2600 code, but it is hugely important. The FDA title 21 section of the CFR lays out what kinds of rubbers can be used in food applications, as well as the process they must go through. The strict guidelines place an emphasis on the food-grade rubber being ‘finished’ and safe for repeated use. FDA-approved gaskets and other components have to comply completely with all of the rules set out, just to be used in the food industry.
In many food-handling settings, FDA-approved gaskets are used as a vital component. When people think of gaskets and seals, they often picture industrial machinery. But a gasket can simply be a rubber part which seals the seam between two surfaces or materials. When it comes to food packaging, it is important to maintain an air-tight seal. This helps to keep the products fresh for as long as possible, while also keeping out potentially-harmful contaminants. Using FDA-approved gaskets to achieve this is extremely important, and a food-grade rubber is the perfect material to achieve the desired effect.
Of the rubber materials mapped out in FDA 21 CFR 177.2600, food-grade silicone stands out as one of the best choices available. Silicone is the most desirable form of rubber for FDA-approved gaskets because it has a range of qualities that much up well with the requirements of FDA title 21. First, and most importantly, food-grade silicone is completely non-toxic. It does not give off any harmful residue, which means it can come into direct contact with food or drink without causing any harm. Food-grade silicone comes in sheets, which can be cut down to provide customized components – such as FDA-approved gaskets and seals. This form of rubber also does not allow mold or mildew to form on its surface. This is an important factor, because it complies specifically with the guidelines which require materials to provide repeated use without introducing any harmful agents to the food they touch.
Food-grade silicone also comes in a neutral white color. This material is non-marking, which is another important requirement in FDA-approved gaskets. Beyond its ability to function without leaving rubber residue behind, silicone has a great range of resistance to chemicals, liquids and heat. These factors are all integral to its capabilities in working effectively around food and within high-stress environments. Substances like corn oil, fish oil, vinegar, tartaric acid, sodium sulfate and many more are harmful to a lot of materials. But food-safe silicone has resistance levels that allow it to stand up to such exposure. It is also flexible and has an extremely high working temperature, ranging from -103 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, giving the food-grade rubber a good degree of versatility.
FDA-approved gaskets made from food-safe silicone and other approved rubbers are used within the food industry for a wide array of purposes. They are utilized in everything from food packaging, processing, production and preparation. As such, there are plenty of products that are made from FDA-grade rubber to preserve the quality of the ingestible items that they come into contact with. Aside from gaskets and seals, other food-related items made using rubber include tubing, countertop matting and conveyor belts. No matter what the component is, it can be made safer by using food-safe silicone or other FDA rubbers.
When it comes to the food industry, FDA-approved gaskets are the unsung heroes. These seals, made from rubber, provide vital components in the proper packaging and preservation of food. Food-safe silicone is the best material for the job because it has the capabilities necessary to create air-tight seals while keeping food safe from toxic contaminants and potential harm.