Stainless steel as a food contact material

Which types of stainless steel are safe for contact with food? This is a simple question, for which there is no easy answer. Within the EU, each member state is free to establish its own regulations. For instance, Italy has a positive list of stainless steel grades, which can be used in food contact applications. France defines a minimum chromium content of 13 % and upper limits for certain other alloying elements. In Germany and the UK, standards may specify particular grades for particular application.

In contrast to Regulations, Council of Europe (CoE) Guidelines are not legally binding. Member countries are free to decide whether or not they implement them in their national legislation. However, they serve as a guidance documents for national policy makers. The market often anticipates new legislation: in the absence of legally binding EU-wide criteria, the CoE Guidelines have become widely accepted as a quasi-standard in EU trade. For this reason, it is important for manufacturers of food-contact equipment and articles to be aware of the document.

In the latest (2013) version of the Guidelines, several amendments were made over the predecessor version, some of which also concern stainless steel. Most importantly, the specific release limits for a number of alloying constituents were updated – chromium, iron and nickel. Molybdenum was taken up into the list and so were a number of other alloying components and impurities. The Euro Inox paper THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE GUIDELINES IN A NUTSHELL provides an overview of those aspects, which are relevant for stainless steel. The paper can be downloaded form the Euro Inox website at http://www.euro-inox.org/pdf/map/CoE-Guidelines_EN.pdf.

Published 28/01/2014 09:30:39 Last Modified 28/01/2014 09:33:31

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