What Exactly is “Food Grade” Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel, as we all know, is the one of the most versatile metals on the planet. It’s used in construction, architecture, medical & of course food service. However, not all stainless steel is considered “food grade”. In fact, only a handful of grades (out of the over 150) make the cut. What qualifies certain types of stainless steel as food safe?

In this article, we’ll share the 4 requisites needed in order to qualify stainless steel as “food grade”. We’ll also go over the specific grades that fit into the category as well. Let’s start.

1. Non-Porous Surface

Stainless steel has an inherent non-porous surface, which gives it hygienic properties not seen in other metals. The surface greatly decreases the risk of contamination & bacterial growth. No viruses or germs can penetrate the material, so it is perfect for a food service environment.

2. Corrosion Resistance

Rust poses a 100% health risk & must be addressed immediately. Stainless steel contains a very thin oxide layer on the surface thanks to the presence of chromium. This layer is responsible for fighting against corrosion. Other materials such as nickel & manganese are added to slightly enhance corrosion resistance as well.

3. Overall Strength & Durability

Stainless steel possesses the weight & thickness to withstand repeated uses. On top of that, stainless steel is resistant to pitting, chipping, scratching & distortion making it a metal that is meant to be used for the long term. Stainless steel is also made to handle frequent cleanings & detergents without degradation. Finally, stainless steel does not retain odors or chemicals so it is safe for warewashing applications as well.

4. Smooth, Easy to Clean Surface

One of the easiest metals to clean happens to be stainless steel. With a little bit of non-abrasive cleaner & a soft cloth, you can wipe away most marks & blotches without a problem. In the food service environment, this goes a long way in preserving hygiene & cleanliness.

List of “Food Grade” Stainless Steel Grades

Believe it or not, only 3 specific grades of stainless steel are considered food safe:

  • Type 304 – Type 304 stainless steel is a cost effective grade that is suitable for nearly any food service environment. It boasts all of the above characteristics to make it food safe. It is also the easiest to weld & shape. 
  • Type 316 – Although very similar to the naked eye to Type 304, Type 316 stainless steel contains a higher nickel & chromium content, making it a more expensive option. 316 is better used for larger scale applications such as boilers or processing equipment. It is also the best option for outside kitchens. 
  • Type 430 – Type 430 stainless steel is magnetic, so it differs from the above two drastically. This grade also possesses less corrosion & temperature resistance as well. Better suited for mildly acidic environments.

IMC/Teddy proudly manufactures all products in the United States of America using Type 304 stainless steel. Type 304 stainless steel is proven to be the most useful material in the food service industry due to its strength, cost effectiveness, durability, & corrosion resistance. For a closer look at our mission, click here.

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of IMC/Teddy. Our content is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. Please contact IMC/Teddy directly if you would like to feature this post on your webpage. Thank you.

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