Food & Beverage
The word "food" encompasses a lot of products — dairy items, beverages, granular or powdered products, sticky or viscous substances, fresh ingredients; the list goes on and on. And when it comes to processing food, tubing and reinforced hose is often needed.
Like the pharmaceutical arena, the food industry is highly regulated. Raw ingredients, equipment and finished products must meet guidelines and standards involving the FDA, USDA, 3-A SSI (3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc.), NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and/or CDC (Center for Disease Control). Hence the tubing and hose through which food is processed must also meet guidelines and standards.
Several factors need to be considered before settling upon a particular tubing material, or its type of construction, for a food-related application. Performance properties such as flexibility, temperature resistance and durability must be evaluated. Questions involving pressure or vacuum and the tubing's durometer (how soft or hard it is) need to be addressed.
Plasticizers — chemical agents added to resin to increase its workability during processing and to impart flexibility to the finished product — have become an important topic in recent years. These chemical agents can leach out of tubing and contaminate the flow within. Certain plasticizers such as DEHP - Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate — are included on lists of carcinogens from both the federal government and the state of California. Their use in food processing equipment and medical devices has caused great concern, and products containing these chemicals over a certain concentration must display a warning label.
Although plasticizers are a common ingredient in PVC tubing and reinforced hose, the material is greatly used in food industry applications due in part to its relatively low cost and its flexibility. NewAge Industries offers braid-reinforced PVC hose, Nylobrade®, in non-DEHP formulation. Nylobrade provides a mirror-smooth interior surface for outstanding flow, higher pressure capabilities than unreinforced PVC tubing, and non-toxic ingredients that conform to USP Class VI and FDA standards. Nylobrade is also certified by the National Sanitation Foundation for use with food equipment materials (NSF-51) and potable water (NSF-61).
Other tubing materials that are well suited for food processing include silicone, fluoropolymer, TPR (thermoplastic rubber), polyethylene and polypropylene. Each has its own benefits relating to food applications.
Silicone can withstand a wide range of temperature variations — from as low as -100°F to as high as 500°F (-73°C to 260°C), and it's highly flexible. One typical beverage application is hot vending service. Silicone is odorless, tasteless and inert.
Fluoropolymer also works well in food-related uses. It, too, offers a wide temperature range, and its non-stick properties are useful in applications involving viscous or gummy fluids.
TPR, available in FDA grades, offers outstanding compression characteristics and works well in peristaltic pumps. Polyethylene and polypropylene both offer chemical resistance, light weight, and virgin, non-toxic ingredients that conform to FDA standards.
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