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Stainless steels for the food industry: hygienic benefits

Take a look for yourself in your own kitchen at home. You will soon realise that there is no other room where stainless steel is as prominent as in the cook’s temple. The explanation is simple: there is no better material than stainless steel for contact with food.

Solid surface guarantees hygiene

The key reason for this is the smooth, protective and solid chromium oxide layer. It ensures that stainless steels are corrosion resistant. Specifically, this means that the base material does not corrode when it comes into contact with food (for example, fruit acids) and other environmental influences (for example, oxygen and detergents). In addition, stainless steel is very easy to clean, so germs and bacteria have nowhere to attack and hygiene increases significantly.

Another advantage in terms of hygiene is the effect of stainless steel on food. It leaves no harmful substances or particles and therefore does not contaminate or change the food. This makes stainless steel the number one choice for ensuring the high standards of hygiene in the food and beverage industry are adhered to.

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It depends on the alloy

The most important alloying element of stainless steels is chromium. Nickel is also added to chromium in the widely used stainless steel 1.4301, also colloquially known as VA or V2A steel. On your cutlery you can often see numbers like 18/10 or 18/0. These numbers represent the proportions of chromium and nickel. 18/10 means that this material contains on average 18% chromium and 10% nickel. By contrast, 18/0 is nickel-free and has a chromium content of 18%.

Spoilt for choice

There are no generally accepted limits in terms of alloying content when choosing the right kind of stainless steel for contact with food. The choice of the right steel is therefore dependent on the ambient conditions. Austenitic stainless steels (1.4301, 1.4404) are very well suited to most applications in the food industry.

Where there is a higher chance of corrosion, such as with high salt contents (pickling, etc.), it may be necessary to resort to duplex steels. Only the sulphur-alloyed 1.4305 should not be used with food.

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EU regulation defines the requirements for materials for the food industry

Which types of steel may be used in the handling of food? For the countries of the European Community, Regulation 1935/2004/EC defines basic requirements for materials and articles in contact with food. In simple terms, the regulation states that the materials must not transmit harmful substances to foods that could endanger human health. In Europe, it is well documented that stainless steel meets these requirements.

Various stainless steel materials at materials4me

Do you need a specific stainless steel material for your next project? We offer V2A or the higher-grade V4A non-rusting stainless steel for special applications. We invite you to take a closer look at our thyssenkrupp online shop.

Weitere Themen zu Edelstahl:

Cleaning stainless steel
Stainless steel: different surface finishes