Rubber seals are utilized in a variety of industries that follow strict guidelines for the types of materials they can use in their applications. Similarly to medical-grade materials, some rubber seals can also be approved as food-grade materials by the FDA. In order to become FDA approved, the material must be non-toxic, compliant with all FDA regulations and follow the guidelines for chemical compatibility.
All FDA-manufactured products are subjected to rigorous testing to meet the demands of the most challenging food processing applications. These compounds must consist exclusively of the ingredients listed in the FDA’s White List located in the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 21). Here’s a closer look at how to choose the best materials that meet these requirements.
Rubber materials must be able to handle tough environments.
The food and beverage industry is a fast-paced environment. Companies do not have time for unscheduled downtime. And since many foods can become spoiled if not kept under the proper conditions, seal failure can be catastrophic.
In food-grade applications, rubber materials should follow certain guidelines in order to be considered, including:
- Compatibility with all chemicals employed in the application
- Odorless and tasteless
- Resistance to bacteria build-up
- Can withstand a wide range of temperatures
- Non-toxic and non-allergenic
The best FDA-approved rubber materials.
Not all types of rubber are equipped with the capabilities needed for food-grade applications. Some of the most popular materials that o-ring manufacturers use for food-grade sealing solutions include:
Silicone: With one of the widest working temperature ranges for elastomers and excellent chemical resistance, this material is a popular choice for both food and medical applications. Silicone is non-toxic and can withstand cleanroom environments.
Nitrile (Buna-N): Excellent resistance to petroleum-based oils and fuels, silicone greases, hydraulic fluids, water and alcohol make Nitrile a great sealing material for the food and beverage industry. Nitrile also features low compression set, high tensile strength and high abrasion resistance.
EPDM: Made with odorless and tasteless compounds, EDPM is an ideal sealing material. EDPM also features excellent flexibility, resistance to acids and solvents and a reliable temperature range.
FKM: This material can handle higher processing temperatures for longer exposure time, which also reduces downtime. Because of how the material is compounded, there is very low extraction so as not to contaminate food or fluids. FKM also has a lower friction surface, making it better for dynamic applications.
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