For over a century, stainless steel has proven itself, time and time again to be a food-safe material. After all, it doesn’t corrode, rust, or provide livable conditions for harmful pathogens. In terms of hygiene and durability, stainless steel’s 20th century discovery is still making waves within the food and drink industries.
And if you look forward to today, you can find stainless steel being used in a wide range of commercial food applications, long before and after the kitchen.
Today, it’s basically a given that much of our food is processed, sanitized, and packaged before it ever reaches a supermarket or kitchen. And that whole process needs to occur under hygienic conditions.
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Today, more than 30 percent of all stainless steel produced goes on to be used within the food and beverage industries. These uses include:
- Agricultural applications
- Electrical and mechanical equipment, fences, gates, watering, storage tanks.
- Food processing
- Hot water lines, bulk storage, transportation, preparation.
- Food preparation
- Cutlery, surfaces, pots and pans, sinks.
- Display racks, cake stands, hot dog rollers.
- Self service machines
- Dispensers, vending machines, ticket machines.
Basically, at every stage of what it takes to bring foods and beverages to the population at large, you’ll find reliance on stainless steel.
What Makes Stainless Steel Food Grade?
Food grade stainless steel is ideal for sanitary food handling applications, but not every stainless steel qualifies as food grade. Grades are assigned to various steels based on how they measure up against various tests and requirements. For stainless, the qualities we’re looking at are quality, durability, and temperature resistance. Stainless steels that make the grade (see what I did there?) are safe for food preparation, storage, and dining.
Of all the stainless steel varieties, 304 is what you’ll most commonly see used throughout the food and beverage industry. 304 stainless steel is not prone to oxidization or corrosion. The corrosion resistance is attributed to its high nickel content, while rust is prevented by its chromium content. It’s easy to find 304 stainless steel everywhere from commercial kitchens to food processing plants.