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Admin • Mar 02, 2021
Stainless Steel Materials — Metuchen, NJ — J & E Metal Fabricators


Whether you need metal vats for a new food production line or custom-made metal prep tables for your new restaurant, you must select fabrication materials that are safe for use in food-preparation and food-processing equipment. Stainless steel is a common metal used for food-service applications. Here are three facts you should know about stainless steel and food safety.




New York State and most other states require that any commercial surface that comes into contact with food must adhere to certain criteria. To gain health inspection approval of your food-service facility, you must install food-processing equipment that meets all of the criteria.


Commercial food-contact surfaces in New York State must have the following attributes:



  • Constructed of food-grade materials
  • Unpainted
  • No chips or cracks on surface
  • Contains no cadmium, lead, or other toxins
  • Able to withstand normal commercial use
  • Easily cleanable and sanitized
  • Non-reactive to foods, cleaners, or sanitizers
  • Does not impart odor, color, or taste to food

Food-contact surfaces should be non-porous and corrosion-resistant as well. Several grades of stainless steel meet the above criteria for food-service use. In fact, stainless steel is the most common material used to create food-handling equipment.


Stainless steel offers great hardness and durability for busy food-production operations. Stainless steel can also be used in a wide array of food-manufacturing and food-service designs, because the metal is easy to machine and manipulate for fabrication.



Stainless steel is available in over 150 grades, but only a handful of grades are suitable for use in food-contact applications. The grades of stainless steel are designated by two numbers.


The first stainless-steel number is a three-digit series number (or a letter plus a five-digit number for newer grades) and is a rating of the stainless steel's durability, temperature resistance and overall quality. The second number is expressed as two numbers, such as 18/8 or 18/10. The 18 in the above examples represents the percentage of chromium in the graded metal, while the 8 and 10 in the number ratings show the percentage of nickel in the stainless steel.


Chromium is an important ingredient in stainless-steel, since the substance binds oxygen to the finish of the steel to increase the metal's corrosion resistance. Nickel is another corrosion inhibitor of stainless steel.


300 and 400 series stainless steel are the most appropriate types of stainless steel for use in food processing or handling. In fact, 304 and 306 series stainless steel are the most common grades of steel used in food-handling equipment.



Due to its iron content, stainless steel can pit, corrode, and develop rust-colored stains on the finish of the metal. The stainless steel itself doesn't rust, but individual iron particles can and will turn rust-colored on the metal surface.


When you order your fabricated metal equipment, ask your metal vendor for detailed cleaning and sanitizing instructions to reduce the chances of corrosion or pitting of your equipment. If you use the correct cleaning/sanitizing products and routinely monitor the environmental conditions around your stainless-steel equipment, you reduce pitting and corrosion of the metal.


Some tips to remember when cleaning stainless steel include the following:



  • Never use plain steel brushes, since they degrade the bonds in the oxide layer.
  • Limit use of chloride, bromide, and other halides on stainless steel, since these substances cause pitting.
  • Avoid putting high-temperature chloride solutions on stainless steel.
  • Limit contact with highly acidic foods and substances.



Establish a clear and firm inspection/cleaning protocol for your stainless steel equipment. When your stainless-steel items are cleaned and sanitized correctly, they don't harbor bacteria and other microorganisms that cause corrosion. Routine inspections of stainless-steel equipment helps you monitor corrosion and catch problems before the equipment fails or food safety is compromised.


Schedule fabrication and installation of your custom food-handling equipment in New York or New Jersey by contacting J&E Metal Fabricators, Inc. , today. We work with you to create efficient and durable food-handling equipment that meets your needs.

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