Food Contact Safe Stainless Steel

food contact safe steel

Stainless steel is an ideal and popular material for food-grade industrial blades because it:

  • Has great durability against dents, nicks and breaks
  • Is easy to clean
  • Requires no protective coating
  • Is chemically neutral, preventing odor and flavor transfer
  • Resists acid erosion

Chromium gives stainless steel its high corrosion resistance by acting as a chromium oxide film that prevents oxygen from eroding its surface. According to FDA regulations, food contact safe stainless steel must have at least 16% chromium content.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) created various stainless steel grades ranging from 100 to 600. Grades SAE 200, SAE 300 and SAE 400 have the correct amount of chromium, making them the FDA-approved choices for use in food preparation.

SAE Series Needed to Be Considered Food Safe by FDA

You’ll need the following three kinds of stainless steel grades for your industrial blades to be in compliance with FDA food safety requirements.

1. SAE 200

SAE 200 series stainless steel is an alloy of chromium, nickel and manganese with an austenitic crystalline structure. Such a combination makes this stainless steel variety tough even when it’s working in cold environments. The manganese is used to replace some of the costlier nickel, so SAE 200 grade stainless steel is a more cost-effective choice compared to other options.

There are two materials in the SAE 200 category — 201 and 202 — that work well in food processing applications but lack the resilience needed to hold an edge for knife applications.

2. SAE 300

SAE 300 series stainless steel is a chromium-nickel alloy that, like SAE 200, has an austenitic crystalline structure. Because this variety has no manganese, its nickel content is higher. The nickel is what gives SAE 300 the highest corrosion resistance and overall cost among the food contact safe stainless steel options.

The most common stainless steel used in this category is SAE 304, which has 18% chromium and eight percent nickel. The second most common is SAE 316, with 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The 300 series of stainless steels are extremely corrosion resistant and certain chemistries, when Cold Rolled, can withstand prolonged wear, 301 Full Hard is commonly used to make tray-sealing and other formed stainless knives.

3. SAE 400

SAE 400 series stainless steel is a chromium alloy and the exception to the rule that food contact surfaces must have above 16% chromium in their alloy. It’s made with a ferritic crystalline structure that includes carbon in its alloy. It does have a very high chromium content relative to other blade materials and trace amounts of nickel so it resists oxidation. Their main advantage is their achievable material hardness when heat-treated, which are greater than those of the austenitic structures of SAE 200 and SAE 300.

There are several types of SAE 400 steel, many of which meet the minimum chromium requirements by allowable exception to be considered food-grade. SAE 420 and 440C are common food-safe stainless steel from this category.

Order Food-Grade Stainless Steel Blades From York Saw

If you need stainless steel knives for food processing, come to York Saw & Knife. We manufacture blades that are food safe, so your operations can work with efficiency while remaining in FDA compliance. We can make our blades in bulk for your entire plant and/or create custom blades to meet your particular needs.

To order your industrial knives today or request assistance for determining the best grade option for you, call us at 1-800-233-1969.