Stainless Steel Confirmed as Safe for Food Preparation

ISSF welcomes the publication of an independent report, commissioned by Team Stainless, confirming the continuing safety of using stainless steel in food preparation, following the introduction of new test criteria in Europe.

The Council of Europe (CoE) published a guideline regarding metals and alloys in food contact materials in 2013, defining specific release limits (SRLs) for a range of metals including iron, chromium, nickel, manganese and molybdenum and specifying a new, more aggressive test to simulate use in food preparation.

Team Stainless commissioned the internationally renowned KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden to independently test seven grades of stainless steel in accordance with the new protocol.

The seven grades tested included the two most common grades – 304 (EN 1.4301) and 316L (EN 1.4404) – as well as the ferritic grades EN 1.4003 and 430 (EN 1.4016), the austenitic grades 201 (EN 1.4372) and 204 (EN 1.4597), and the high-strength lean duplex LDX 2101 (EN 1.4162).

The authors demonstrated that all of the grades passed the test prescribed in the CoE guidelines for the relevant metallic elements of stainless steel. The study also demonstrated that the rate of release decreases significantly following initial exposure and with repeated use over time.

This is good news for all suppliers and manufacturers dealing with food contact products like kitchen utensils, pans, appliances and commercial catering equipment as it demonstrates that stainless steel continues to be safe to use.

It is still important to match the grade of stainless steel from the many options available with the food being prepared and the required cleaning regime to ensure the best performance. Some food products are quite corrosive, for instance if they have a high salt content, and may require a higher alloyed stainless steel grade. Careful consideration of the corrosion resistance of a grade in a particular food environment should therefore always precede a metal release food safety test.

A summary of the report can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1HEzL5V