Food and beverage production line processing equipment, kitchen goods, and packaging all use food grade adhesives.
Typical applications which could require FDA approved or FDA compliant adhesives could include:
There are a number of country-specific legislations. Probably the most widely recognised would be the FDA (Food and Drug Adminstration) which is US based. Within Europe different countries have different legislations, for example.
There are also other approvals such as potable water which differ from country to country – e.g WRAS (UK), KIWA (Netherlands), DVGW (Germany), NSF (USA).
As FDA is most recognised, adhesive manufacturers producing food-safe adhesives, would mainly follow formulation rules as stipulated by FDA 175.105 and 175.300. When formulating FDA compliant adhesives, it is necessary to select FDA approved raw materials only from an official list. We often receive request for FDA approved cyanoacrylates or FDA approved UV Curable adhesives. It is not possible to manufacture cyanoacrylates or UV curables that comply to these FDA guidelines. Simply because the raw materials to make a UV or cyanoacrylate are not on the list of acceptable raw materials.
EU 2002/72/EC and 1935/2004 Food contact regulations concern plastic materials and chemicals which can come into contact with food – even for items such as conveyor belts which food must pass along in a production plant. Therefore, food safe adhesives are required in factory production environments, not just for packaging.
One of the “biggies” which has had the industry all of a flutter for a while is BPA. Now everybody is rushing out to buy BPA-free drinks bottles, baby items, BPA-free food storage solutions. BPA is the abbreviated name, Bisphenol A, and is quite a popular raw material in many adhesive formulations. There are many food-safe raw materials that can be used instead but there may be trade-offs in terms of adhesive performance (final strength, environmental resistance, cure time, handling characteristics etc).
In fact, FDA compliant adhesives are quite limited in terms of adhesive technology and performance features, so no fancy structural acrylic adhesives unfortunately. Again, to comply with the FDA food grade code, there are few raw materials. Permabond offers a small range of two-part FDA epoxies and can custom formulate to meet specific cure or viscosity requirements – providing the formulation can remain in compliance with the FDA formulation guidelines.
One of the biggest users of food safe epoxy is the filter industry. Adhesive pots filter media into end caps. The filters may filter water, fruit juice etc. There are a number of factors to consider when formulating a filter potting epoxy:
As well as filter potting, there are similar applications such as casting epoxy for producing the filter end. (So it is not encased in a plastic or steel end cap). Bonding mesh to frames for screens and sieves is another popular application. This type of application is particularly sensitive to the rheology (flow behaviour) of the adhesive. The adhesive needs to be compatible with the gauge of the mesh so as to wick into the mesh but then not flow everywhere outside of the bonding area.
Good question, some are, many aren’t. FDA epoxies have a reasonable resistance to hot soapy water, once epoxy adhesive has cured, it is inert and resistant to attack. However, you do need to be careful regarding the materials the adhesive is bonding. For example, dissimilar materials where there could be differential thermal expansion and contraction at high temperatures and some substrate materials could absorb water or corrode which could damage the bond. It is always a good idea to perform accelerated ageing tests on bonded parts. This will ensure long term durability is satisfactory for your application.
Sealing pipework on equipment such as coffee machines, ice cream/smoothie dispensers or even automatic dispensers on food production lines. Drinking water approved anaerobic thread sealants are ideal for sealing metal pipework.
Things like handles on cutlery or knives may be bonded. Porcelain crockery such as plate stands and other assemblies made up of two or more piece. Kitchen utensils, weighing scales, handles on pots and pans. Decorative items such as tea caddies, ornate decorations on whiskey bottles, glasses and novelty items also have requirements for adhesives.
A big area for food-safe adhesive is for packaging. In fact many film packaging materials have a heat activated layer which works very effectively as a cheap, fast way of hermetically sealing food packaging. No requirement for a two-part epoxy glue here!
For further information about Permabond’s food safe adhesives, please contact Permabond, we would be happy to assist.