No more lubricating weakly

May 10, 2004
Vitto Brand Foods extends lubrication schedule with tougher food-grade grease

Eat a hero sandwich in Canada and it's likely that at least one of the sandwich meats came from Vitto Brand Foods of Sudbury, Ontario. Vitto has been preparing deli meats and sausages for major grocery chains and independent markets across Canada since 1976.

To stay competitive in Canada's C$11.3 billion meat processing industry, the company uses the most cost-effective and modern manufacturing practices available. Vitto also must meet Canada's stringent health code regulations.

Several years ago, the maintenance team at the plant found the grease it used to operate its equipment, such as linkers, conveyors and meat buckets, was not performing well in extreme hot and cold temperature conditions. As a result, there was undue wear on the equipment.

Jerry Gilbank injects food-grade lubricant into a linker. This scene now occurs monthly instead of weekly because the new lube better withstands heat and washdowns.

"We needed a grease that could handle a wide range of temperatures, from the motors in the ceilings that run our ovens to the ones on the ground that keep the freezers going," says Jerry Gilbank, maintenance manager.

"Actually, the bigger problem was the old grease being washed out by the hot water during our washdowns," he continues. A common problem experienced by maintenance crews at many food processing plants is the washout of grease resulting from the use of steam, hot water and caustic cleaning agents such as bleaches in the cleaning of production equipment. Typical greases break down under these conditions and require regular reapplication by maintenance crews.

Vitto officials shopped around for new lubes and decided upon Purity FG grease from Petro-Canada. Purity FG is formulated to have a high drop point and low temperature pumpability, which allow it to be used in a variety of applications. This wide operating range enables manufacturers to use one type of grease for numerous applications without having to worry about equipment performance.

Since Purity FG grease is food grade, it also meets the highest food industry purity standards and fits in HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) and GMP (good manufacturing practice) plans. The grease is H1 registered by NSF, approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and certified kosher and pareve by Star K. All of its components comply with FDA regulation 21 CFR 178.3570 "Lubricants with incidental food contact."

With the previous grease used, maintenance crews at Vitto Brands had to coat the machines weekly because the daily regimen of steaming down the machines was liquefying the grease.

"With Purity FG on there, we have to physically remove it because it maintains its tackiness so well. Even chemicals won't take it off," says Gilbank. "We're still cleaning the machines every day, but now we've switched from a weekly regreasing schedule to monthly."

For Gilbank, this means less strain on his maintenance staff. To his bosses, it means saving on maintenance and material costs, and therefore a stronger bottom line.

"I'm using a grease that works twice as well as what we had, and it's completely safe for contact with food," remarked Gilbank. "It has worked so well in our production equipment that we started using it in our non-production equipment like our powered and manual forklifts. Now it's the only grease we use in the building."

For more information, see www.petro-canada.ca or call 888-284-4572.

Petro-Canada last month rebranded its Calflo FG heat transfer fluid to Purity FG to better reflect its food-grade attributes. The name change results from NSF International's recent creation of the HT1 category to distinguish heat transfer fluids registered for incidental food contact (HT1) from those registered for no food contact (HT2).

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