Food supply and food safety are very much current issues across the globe. According to the World Health Organisation, one in ten people fall ill each year from eating contaminated food and 420 thousand people die each year as a result, with young children at particularly high risk. These statistics urged the WHO to dedicate World Health Day in 2015 to “Food safety: from farm to plate, make food safe”.
Regulators around the world are also taking food safety seriously. The Food Safety Modernisation Act in the US; China’s 2015 revision to the Food Safety Law, tightening of regulations on food contact materials in India, and in Europe EDQM’s1 Technical Guide on Metals and Alloys Used in Food Contact Materials and Articles are just a few examples.
All agree that food safety starts with rigorous hygiene, and nickel-containing stainless steels have long played a vital role in this respect at every link of the food chain. Stainless steel has a noble history. First developed in the early 1900s, it was quickly recognised as an ideal material for food contact applications, with an early example being the splendid stainless steel kitchens of the luxury liner, the Queen Mary, launched in 1934.
Because it is easy to clean, stainless steel is the ideal material for environments where strict hygienic conditions are important. And nickel-containing stainless steel’s corrosion resistance means it is inert, leaving the taste and appearance of foods unchanged. Today, more than 20% of all stainless steel produced goes into products related to the food and beverage sector. In this issue of Nickel, we look at the role nickel plays in the food supply chain from the milking parlour, to food and beverage processing equipment and cutlery. Literally from “Farm to Fork”.