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Tech Notes, Volume 1, Issue 1

April, 2010


Food Grade 101

Much of the world’s food is touched by processing or packaging equipment. Our health depends on safe manufacture of pharmaceuticals. When we purchase a bar of soap, hand lotion or lip balm, the expectation of a safe product is implied. The industries that manufacture the foods and goods that feed us and keep us healthy require ultra clean manufacturing processes to insure safety for the con­sumer. This is where food grade lubricants are critical.

Food grade lubricants are designed for safe use in the food, beverage and drug manufacturing industries. They serve dual purposes—fundamental lubrication of equipment as well as safety to humans in case of even microscopic contact with product. In the case of food grade lubricants, basic lubrication can occur under very harsh conditions. Environmental contaminants differ from those affecting a vehicle or heavy construction equipment. For instance, in a setting such as wheat milling, grain dust is a more probable and plentiful contaminant than dirt, yet just as clogging to filters. Likewise, any meat processing plant calls for frequent, thorough steam cleaning of equipment, increasing chances of water contamina­tion. Additionally, when working with food products, the necessity to reduce growth of bacteria, yeast and fungus is of prime importance. Oh, and in the case of accidental contact with the product – no matter how minute – the lubricant must be completely harmless to human beings both internally and externally. Try that with even the highest quality 10W-40! It’s not happening.

Food grade lubricants are commonly a blend of one of three types of base com­pounds — mineral oil, synthetic oil, or vegetable oil. These are then combined with additives to boost performance and extend lubricant life


Originally the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed the food grade lubricant designations of H1, H2 and H3 and managed their over­sight and approvals in the United States. As originally designated by the USDA:

  • H1 food grade lubricants are used in processing environments where incidental contact with food may occur to any degree, however small it may be.
  • H2 lubricants are non-food grade lubricants used on food processing equipment where no possibility of contact with food exists.
  • H3 lubricants are food grade oils - usually edible - used to prevent rust on hooks, trolleys and other similar equipment.

In 1998 the USDA ceased oversight of food grade lu­bricants, a function subsequently taken over by the NSF International (National Sanitary Foundation), an interna­tional, non-profit organization. NSF International has been actively involved in and concerned with public health, safety and protection of the environment since its inception in 1944. Currently, NSF listed H1 & H3 food grade lubri­cants are recognized worldwide. NSF manages the regis­tration process for all food grade lubricants. A complete list of all approved and registered food grade lubricants is maintained on the NSF web site (


Several factors often make a food grade H1 lubricant the lubricant of choice for all equipment in a “clean” process­ing environment. It is difficult to completely eliminate all possible contact with the end product. Leaks or drips from chains, conveyor belts, etc. cannot be completely elimi­nated. Deciding at which point in the process that contact with the final product is absolutely impossible is itself next to impossible. In addition, human error—accidental use of the wrong lubricant at any point in the process—is always a real, even if remote, possibility. More frequently the decision is made to use H1 food grade lubricants at all points in the manufacturing process. In this way, safety is guaranteed and liability minimized. Better to err on the side of caution, than to risk contamination and the expense associated with product recall, or consumer illness.


Bel-Ray is the leading manufacturer of exceptional qual­ity food grade lubricants. Our extensive list includes 127 NSF H1 & H3 designated food grade lubricants. We offer almost five times as many products as any one of our com­petitors.


Bel-Ray Addresses Kyoto

Bel-Ray Company Pty Ltd is moving with the times into the 21st Century.

What is the one thing that everyone is talking about in the 21st Century? CO2 (Carbon emissions), which leads you to ask, what will the world climate look like for our kids and future generations? Currently world wide we use 3.01 CMO (Cubic Mile of Oil) per year and have a 46 CMO proven supply and 52 CMO awaiting discovery that’s enough oil for another 59 years.

The worrying factors are:

  • One litre of crude oil when burnt will produce 3.15 kilograms of CO2.
  • 429 litres of petrol will release one tonne of CO2.
  • 360.75 litres of Diesel will release one tonne of CO2.
  • 3.15 barrels of crude oil will release one tonne of CO2

The other worrying factor is that the average house hold will produce 14,000 kilograms of CO2 per year, that means you would have to plant 16,000 trees to make your current house hold carbon neutral.

What are we going to do about this? The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Some 183 countries including Austra­lia are now signed and ratified to the Kyoto Protocol. The aim is to reduce the overall CO2 emissions, and part of this framework is a system of Carbon credits. In practice this means that Non-Annex I economies have no GHG emission restrictions, but have financial incentives to develop GHG emission reduction projects to receive Carbon Credits that can then be sold to Annex I buyers, encouraging sustainable development. In addition, the flexible mechanisms allow Annex I nations with efficient, low GHG-emitting industries, and high prevailing environ­mental standards to purchase carbon credits on the world market instead of reducing green-house gas emissions do­mestically. Annex I entities typically will want to acquire carbon credits as cheaply as possible, while Non-Annex I entities want to maximize the value of carbon credits generated from their domestic Greenhouse Gas Projects. Industrialized countries world wide are putting more and more pressure on industrial, mining and power generation companies to reduce their carbon foot print and to give them more incentive to pursue these reductions are introducing a system whereby companies can obtain carbon credits in many and varied ways.

What does all this have to do with Bel-Ray you ask?

It has a lot to do with Bel-Ray and fits our overall market­ing strategies and the way in which we pursue new busi­ness. Bel-Ray prides its self on Proven Value, reduced lu­bricant consumption and extending component life. We use these special attributes to market our products and service to our customers, who incidentally, in the currently world economical climate are looking for ways to reduce their overall operating cost, while at the same time looking for ways to reduce their carbon foot print. How can Bel-Ray help their customers in reducing their operating cost while also reducing their carbon foot print.

Example 1: We have proven data with draglines where Bel-Ray has reduced the overall lubricant consumption by as much as 50% in some cases on average that’s a 5,000 kilogram reduction in lubricant usage or around $ 45,000.00 AUD a year in savings, its also worth 15,750 carbon credits you would have to plant 14,318 trees to get that many carbon credits or purchase the credits from other countries.

Example 2: Bel-Ray synthetic gear oil running in motor­ize wheel ends in a mining fleet of 20 trucks, normally these oils are changed every 3,000 hours, Bel-Ray com­bined with an oil filtration program will run 20,000 hours that’s 6.6 times longer, across a truck fleet that’s a savings of $ 201,600.00 on oil cost alone over 20,000 hours and equates to 18,711 carbon credits you would have to plant 17,010 trees to get the same amount of carbon credits, add in the extended component life by maintaining ISO clean­liness code of 16/14 and you will get 2.5 times component life extensions.

That’s huge overall savings. Isn’t that what your customers are looking for?

There are many more examples of how Bel-Ray can reduce operating costs while reducing customers’ carbon foot prints.

Pressure to reduce our dependence on carbon base fuel and lubricants is not going to go way, we need to adapt or die. Bel-Ray Pty Ltd is grabbing this challenge with both hands, which is why we have introduced a new company logo and slogan


Through correct and sustainable management of lubricants and lu­bricant applications Bel-Ray are the market leaders, setting new stan­dards and new innovative ideas.


New Bel-Ray On-line Advisor

Bel-Ray, the industry leader in total performance lubricants, is pleased to announce the addition of the Bel-Ray Powersports Lubricant Advi­sor, a comprehensive database that offers Bel-Ray product information on motorcycles, ATVs, scooters and mopeds via our web site.

Simply enter the make, model and type of your motorcycle, ATV, etc. and the Lube Advisor automatically recommends the best possible Bel-Ray product for each application based on OEM recommendations. You can also perform an easy text-search.

The Bel-Ray Powersports Lubricant Advisor gives an overview of all oil and/or fluid containing compartments and their fill capacity along with service intervals specified by the OEM. The Lubricant Advisor will also recommend up to four Bel-Ray products that can be used in the particular application as shown. More Bel-Ray products might be technically possible for the application, but because this is also a consumer web site and for the sake of simplicity and ease of use, a maximum of four products is displayed.

The Bel-Ray Powersports Lubricant Advisor is also linked directly to the Bel-Ray web site, and by clicking on the recommended products, additional information is revealed. The benefit of this feature is that our customers can easily view the best Bel-Ray products for their motorcycle, ATV, etc.

Customers will also have the ability to click on the Sir Tech button, which is a direct link to our R&D department, to help answer any additional questions to help with their selection.

To access the Bel-Ray Powersports Lubricant Advisor go to Select “Consumer.” You will find a link to the lubricant advisor at the bottom of the page.

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