What You Need to Know About Food Grade Platforms
“Food Grade” is a rather general term that can differ greatly by industry, state, company, and facility. To the uninitiated, the term “food grade requirement” implies that there are specifications out there that are known to all, when in fact only general guidelines exist that are subject to many interpretations. “Food grade requirements” for platforms typically involve guidelines for material used, the finish applied to the material, catch points, and material shapes that are favorable to general wash down capabilities. We’re here to clear up some of the confusion and help you
understand when a Cubic Designs mezzanine can (and can’t) help maximize space in a food or beverage environment.
Let’s start with metal types. In most cases 304 or 304L stainless steel are the go-to for food grade applications. The difference between 304 and 304L is the percent of carbon, and both types are highly resistant to corrosion caused by chemicals, moisture and other atmospheric factors. This means that they are great for areas that require frequent wash downs. Additionally, 304-series stainless steel takes well to being formed into complex shapes.
The finish applied to stainless steel is also of importance. Finish is typically measured in terms of “roughness” of the metal’s surface, and the lower the roughness the better for food grade applications. In the USDA’s Dairy Processing Equipment guidelines, a maximum roughness of 32 microinches is specified, which can be obtained using a glass bead blast or other mechanical processes.
Open seams and catch points are other important considerations when it comes to food grade. All companies looking for food grade systems are going to require minimal catch points that could harbor bacteria or debris. Some facilities may need fully welded platforms, which would essentially have as close to zero catch points as possible. In some cases, companies may also have sanitary requirements, which would not only call for welded platforms, but very strict weld quality requirements as well. What a certain customer needs will be determined by several factors, but customers that have very strict sanitary requirements will (usually) have a firm grasp on what they need from the get-go.
Now, what can Cubic Designs do in the Food Grade arena? Our stainless steel mezzanines are made from 304-series stainless steel, and our welders hold D1.6 welding certifications for that material. We currently do not have sanitary-weld-quality capabilities, which means that although we can provide stainless steel platforms in many food grade applications, we do not when strict sanitary requirements exist. We utilize closed tube framing in our bolted-design platforms, which minimizes catch points and meets requirements for many food and beverage customers that don’t required welded-frame design. All of our stainless steel passes through our bead blast booth, where we apply a #8 glass bead blast to achieve a roughness level of at least 32 microinches, resulting in a uniformly smooth surface to help with wash down capabilities.
So with the exception of facilities with strict sanitary requirements, there are many opportunities for Cubic Designs’ stainless steel platforms in the food and beverage industries. Please call us with your opportunities, and we’ll help you tackle some of these exciting projects.