Food Grade Materials

Sarah Martz, Risk Identification and Management Coordinator
(sarah.martz@ontario.ca or 519-826-4655)

On January 1, 2018, it will be mandatory that all surfaces that come into contact with maple sap and maple products be constructed of food grade material that is non-toxic and that will not cause or contribute to contamination. This includes equipment, utensils, containers, or any other surfaces and materials used during collection, production, storage, packing and transportation. All lead containing equipment that comes in contact with maple sap or maple products must be removed from production. All contact surfaces must be made of standard food grade materials.

Lead contamination in maple syrup has largely been associated with processing equipment that contains lead. Maple sap and syrup can react with lead-containing surfaces, allowing lead to leach into them.

An example of an unaccepted food grade equipment

Lead-bearing equipment includes, but is not limited to:

  • soldering (e.g., soldered seams) on galvanized equipment manufactured before 1994;
  • soldering (e.g., soldered seams) on all other equipment manufactured before 1995, including stainless steel evaporators;
  • bronze and brass fittings; and
  • terneplate (a lead and tin alloy that was used to coat iron and steel sheets; such as, old milk cans sometimes used for bulk storage of maple syrup are often constructed of terneplate material).

Material is considered food grade when it does not contaminate food with harmful substances or alter the food's composition and/or sensory characteristics when in direct contact with food. The material itself, as well as the environment in which the material will be used, are taken into consideration when determining suitability as a food contact surface.

When purchasing, manufacturing or repairing equipment, ensure that all materials are food grade. Ask the equipment vendor for verification that the equipment is constructed of food grade material.

Standards for food grade materials have been established by government agencies such as Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration.

In addition, there are a number of standards setting organizations such as NSF International and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

For additional guidance, producers may reference Section 1.3 of OMAFRA's Maple Products Guidance.

You can also find useful information in the Standards on Maple Equipment Intended for the Production of Maple Syrup.

As well as North American Good Manufacturing Practices to Avoid Lead Contamination of Maple Syrup prepared by the International Maple Syrup Institute.

Examples of non-food grade materials:

  • Terneplate coating
  • Lead soldier
  • Non-food grade plastic
  • Galvanized steel
  • Mild carbon steel, either painted or unpainted
  • Brass
  • Bronze
  • Copper
  • Wood

An example of non-grade food materialAn example of non-grade food material

Commonly used food grade materials:

  • 200, 300 or 400 Series stainless steel; 300 Series (e.g. 304) is most commonly used in the food industry
  • Plastic recognized as food grade by a government agency such as Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or a standards setting organization such as ISF International
  • Aluminum Alloy Series 1000, 3000, 4000, 5000 and 6000 (filter presses are constructed of 6000 series aluminum)
  • Glass (applications are limited due to the potential for breakage)
  • Filter fabric that meets standards established by NSF/ANSI 42 & 53
  • Reverse Osmosis systems that meet NSF/ANSI 58 standards
  • Plastic piping and/or tubing that meet standards created by NSF/ANSI 51
  • Potable water plastic tubing designated as NSF/ANSI 61 or NSF-PW

All food grade materials share common characteristics:

Suitable for the intended use and appropriate for the application - Thick wall food grade High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic is appropriate for the short-term hot pack temperatures of consumer containers but not for the extended high temperatures of evaporator pans.

Non-toxic - Surfaces and coatings are free of lead solder, lead, and/or lead-containing alloys or other toxic heavy metals such as zinc that may leach into the food product creating a food safety hazard.

Smooth with non-porous/non-absorbent surfaces - Surfaces are free from rust, rough welds, pitting, cracks, crevices, open seams, holes, peeling paint that can trap/absorb/transfer spoilage bacteria, mould spores, chemical residues, extraneous material to the food product.

Durable/corrosion resistant - The material is able to withstand repeated exposure to food, soil, moisture, heat, and/or cleaning and sanitizing chemicals while maintaining its original surface characteristics.

Inert - The material, in the environment in which it is used, does not chemically react to maple products, moisture, heat, cleaning/sanitizing chemicals and create foodborne hazards or affect the organoleptic characteristics (taste, colour, odour, and feel) of the maple product.

Examples of accepted food grade equipment


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Sarah Martz - Risk Identification and Management Coordinator/ OMAFRA
Creation Date: December 2017
Last Reviewed: December 2017