Food processing is serious business in America. It takes specially certified materials to handle and package food properly within established guidelines set forth by the US Food and Drug Administration. Rubber is often the desired material for use in food packaging and preparation applications. However, it cannot be just any rubber. It must be food grade rubber, which is usually an FDA approved silicone product. Rubber-Cal stocks food grade silicone rubber so that food preparation and packaging projects can be completed while abiding by the proper health and safety standards established by the FDA. It is preferred for use as food grade seals because silicone is non-toxic, very flexible, and has a great working temperature range. If you need the best kind of FDA approved gaskets and food grade seals available, look no further than silicone food grade rubber.
Food Grade Rubber
What is Food Grade Rubber?
Food grade rubber is generally made with high quality US materials. More importantly, they must be considered non-toxic materials and must not leave any byproducts when they come in contact with the food content itself. In other words, it is vital that the food grade rubber material itself has no impact on the food it comes into contact with, and simply provides a protective packaging seal to keep food products fresh. Stringent rules, or codes, were established by the FDA when it came to be, certifying when an elastomer can be classified as a food grade rubber. This is because we all consume food and we should be ingesting safe, non-contaminated edibles. This code, often labeled alongside food grade silicone as 21CFR177.2600, is a set of regulations relating to anything that has to do with agriculture. Food processing falls into this category. The rules regarding food grade rubber are found in Title 21, Section 177.2600 of the Code of Federal Regulations (accessdata.fda.gov).
What Sealants Are Food Safe?
Although Title 21 mentions a variety of rubbers, FDA approved silicone rubber is the safest elastomer for food-related applications. Silicone is ideal for use as a food grade rubber because it is a non-toxic material. When it comes into contact with food products, it will not contaminate the food with any foreign chemical substances. It is a mold-resistant and water-repellant material that does not allow for any organic agents to form on it. In addition to being non-toxic, it has almost non-existent levels of odor and taste. These non-contaminating qualities make food grade silicone the perfect material for use as food grade seals.
What is the Difference Between Food Grade Silicone and Regular Silicone?
Not all silicone variations are safe for cooking and handling food. The difference between food grade silicone and regular silicone can most obviously be found in the composition of each material. Food grade silicone products are made with specific guidelines put into place to ensure that it is safe and non-toxic for cooking and storing food. Regular silicone may have certain chemicals or other compounds that may not be safe to use around food such as lead and bisphenol-A, or BPA (clearandwell.com). It is also available in several different colors that may contribute to the toxicity of silicone that is not food safe. FDA approved silicone must be tested and proved to be 100% food grade and uncolored due to the toxic chemicals that come with the coloring.
Does Silicone Rubber Melt?
Beyond hygiene, silicone food grade rubber also possesses considerable physical characteristics. A very important feature of silicone rubber is its impressive ability to work within extreme temperature ranges. It is a trait that helped distinguish silicone from other elastomers. Food processing applications require the wide operating temperature range that FDA approved silicone offers. Some applications see very low temperatures and some others see very high temperatures. Normally, silicone rubber can handle a temperature range from around -103° F to 500° F. In cold temperatures, food grade silicone remains very flexible. In hotter temperatures, the food grade rubber maintains its form and integrity without suffering any heat-related damage. This wide range of temperature resistance has allowed silicone to be used in applications that go beyond food handling, like heavy industry, medical, and construction projects.
Applications for FDA Approved Silicone
Food grade rubber is often employed in applications such as seals and gaskets in areas that require enhanced flexibility. The food processing industry can be physically demanding. The materials used in such applications have to be tough, durable, and flexible. Silicone makes great FDA approved gaskets and other various types of food grade seals because it has a low compression set along with superior levels of flexibility and elongation. A low compression set means that the food grade rubber is better able to rebound after physical pressure is applied to it. Both flexibility and elongation are key for tasks that involve food containers because the food grade rubber needs to be flexible enough to cover the dimensional requirements of different types of containers. Additionally, FDA approved gaskets and seals are made using silicone sheet rubber, which can be made to meet custom orders, depending on what food-related application the food grade silicone is needed for. Beyond its working temperature capabilities, this FDA approved silicone has a range of other properties that make it the most desirable material choice for a food grade rubber. It is available for custom fabrication, which means that it can be cut to exact specifications. This is important in the food industry where a food grade rubber could be used in a variety of different components.
If you need quality food grade rubber for your application, Rubber-Cal has the FDA approved silicone material needed for the job. Our food grade silicone will keep the food contents sealed in your containers safe and ready for consumption, but it will also help you stay well within the legal guidelines mandated by the FDA. Having FDA approved gaskets made of silicone will last longer when exposed to very high or very low temperatures. Even when exposed to such extreme temperatures, the silicone material will not suffer degradation. Keep yourself and others safe with the right kind of FDA-approved, food grade rubber!