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Food processors are seeing the advantages of exceeding regulatory compliance on stainless finishes and customization of sanitary equipment design to benefit from greater sanitation efficiencies and decreases in food safety risk.

The most common stainless material used in food processing equipment is type 304/304L and 316/316L. The 316 SS material typically has 2 – 3% molybdenum, whereas 304 SS has none, which gives 316 SS a greater resistance to various forms of deterioration.

A 2B Mill Finish and an electropolishing finish may have similar RA (roughness average) measurements, depending on material; both have smoother RA readings than most bead blasted finishes. RA is a measurement of the smoothness of material in microinches. A specific RA is often required by compliance agencies, depending on the industry and application. 2B Mill Finish is a widely used stainless steel finish, common in industrial, chemical and food applications. It is corrosion resistant and has a RA range of 40 (7-gauge steel) to 15 (16-gauge steel) microinches. Electropolished finishes also compare in RA (roughness average) values from 5 – 14 microinches, depending on the stainless material.

A clean surface is required before passivating stainless material. It is important to remove contaminants such as machine lubricants and other oils, and general shop dirt. If not removed, contaminated areas may lead to corrosion in the form of pitting, crevice or crack formation.

Selecting the right types of stainless steel for the application is important because the correct choice will help prevent corrosion during long-term use, particularly for high acid and high salt (brine) or high temperature environments. The stainless material, as well as the type of cleaning chemicals and cleaning temperatures which the equipment will be exposed, is also an important consideration.

Repair of alteration of equipment may cause corrosion! Surfaces must be retreated after any repair of or any alteration to the material; this action can leave particles of foreign material on the surface which will cause corrosion.

Welding techniques impact the sanitary requirements and performance of stainless finishes. Superior welding and finishing techniques are imperative to the quality of the stainless finish, the durability of the equipment for long-term operation and the ability to uphold corrosive sanitation processes.

High-end finishes, like pickle passivation and electropolishing, can be applied to all food contact areas on food processing equipment. Mechanical, electropolishing and 2B finishes can be specified for food contact surfaces, including tubs, agitators, augers, thermal screws and other food contact structures and components.

Thanks for taking our quiz! When it comes to stainless equipment finishes for meat blending and processing applications, Mepaco is an authoritative source for recommending stainless material and finishing that will perform best in specific applications.