In an article published on May 17, 2018 by news provider Bakery and Snacks, editor Gill Hyslop drew attention to the fact that “food companies could be unwittingly putting production processes at risk of contamination by fitting mechanical seals that fail to comply with EU regulations.” Mechanical seals are used in food processing industry “to seal rotating equipment to prevent leakage, as well as to seal thick sticky slurries and solutions capable of withstanding clean-in-place (CIP) procedures,” Hyslop explained.
Her article is based on the information provided by Paul Green, sales manager of AESSEAL in the UK. With regard to mechanical seals used in food processing equipment, “there is a shocking lack of awareness of the full implications of several pieces of legislation,” Green said. With these, he referred in particular to the Commission Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, and Commission Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006 on good manufacturing practice for materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.
Green further explained that “many mechanical seal faces are made from carbon.” Although the 15 or so grades of carbon commonly available all look similar, only a few are actually compliant with food safety standards. This makes traceability within the supply chain particularly crucial for ensuring seal safety. However, due to inefficient supply chain communication, along with importing some seal components from Asia, some mechanical seals become “untraceable,” resulting in “zero knowledge of the material the seal is produced from.”
Green further informed that, according to AESSEAL’s estimation, “very few mechanical seals currently used in the industry actually comply with standards.” Therefore, work is ongoing “to bolster awareness of the compliance requirements that impact processing equipment and machinery to try and drive change within the industry before it faces another health and safety crisis.”
Gill Hyslop (May 17, 2018). “’There is no excuse for non-compliant mechanical seals in food production plants.’” Bakery and Snacks