26 August in

What Makes Food-Grade Lubricants Safe to Use on Food Processing Equipment

Lubricants used in the food industry have requirements and performance expectations that go beyond typical lubricants. Many of the raw materials used in typical lubricants are not permissible in food applications for safety reasons. With food-grade lubricants an accident will not compromise the product and eliminates the risk of potential contamination.

Food-grade lubricants are acceptable for use in meat, poultry and other food processing equipment, applications, and plants. The lubricant types in food-grade applications are broken into categories based on the likelihood they will contact food. The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) created the original food-grade designations H1, H2 and H3, which is the current terminology used. The NSF Non-food Compound Production Registration was founded in 1999, taking over the responsibility of evaluating food-grade lubricants and other food processing products. Today, the NSF mark is the only certification that identifies food safe chemicals.

FOOD-GRADE Designations

H1 lubricants are approved for incidental contact with food and are edible and nontoxic. If H1 approved food-grade lubricants fall into food or beverages during processing, the lubricants will not affect the taste, smell, or colour of the products. Using a high-quality H1 lubricant minimizes the risk of contamination and ensures the longevity and performance of equipment.

H2 lubricants are considered to be food-grade but are not specifically food safe products. H2 lubricants cannot have any contact with food. Only used on equipment and machine parts in locations where there is no possibility of contact with food or beverages.

H3 lubricants are typically edible oils used to clean and prevent rust on trolleys, hooks, and similar equipment.

Approved FOOD-GRADE Lubricants

Depending on whether a food-grade lubricant is H1 or H2, the list of approved base stocks will vary. H2 lubricant base stock guidelines are less restrictive and allow a greater variety. H1 lubricants are more limited since they are designed to allow for accidental exposure with the processed foods.

Acceptable Food-Grade Additives and Thickeners

Often, base stocks are not able to meet the severe demands required in food processing work environments. To improve the performance characteristics of base oils, additives are blended into the formulation. The types of antioxidants, corrosion inhibitors, anti-wear and extreme pressure additives are limited by the U.S. FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Section 178.3570 (21 CFR). 21 CFR gives guidance on ingredients by providing a specific list of chemical compounds and additives allowed.

Aluminum complex is the most common H1 grease thickener. They can withstand elevated temperatures and are water resistant, which are important properties for food processing applications.


KLONDIKE’s FOOD-GRADE products are registered with NSF for use in the industry and carry the H1 credentials for incidental food contact. Manufacturers, regulators, and consumers look to NSF for the development of public health standards and certification programs that help protect the world’s food, water, consumer products and environment. The NSF mark confirms that products meet all requirements and demonstrates KLONDIKE’s commitment to quality, compliance, and safety.

Learn more about the KLONDIKE range of FOOD-GRADE products here and please contact us at 604-856-5335 or if you have any questions.


KLONDIKE Lubricants Corporation is an independent Canadian company with oils and lubricants distribution facilities in:
Greater Vancouver, BC ● Edmonton, AB ● Winnipeg, MB ● Greater Toronto, ON ● Moncton, NB