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Role of silicones in food industry



Blessed with versatile properties like inertness, non-toxic, odourless, tasteless, etc, silicones find number of applications in food and beverages industry, says Vinay Pandey.
 
Silicones have blessed many industries by its versatile properties like inert in nature, non-toxic, odourless, tasteless and easily meets with regulatory requirements. One of them is food industry, which uses silicones in many of the critical applications. Let’s have a look on applications of silicones in food industry.
 
Food processing 
Silicone is inert in nature having odourless and nontoxic properties. Due to its excellent heat resistance properties, silicone gaskets are in demand for sealing applications of equipment like bakery door oven, pressure cookers, food processors/mixers. Silicones are also widely used as release agents in food processing because of their non-stick properties to remove food efficiently and cleanly from moulds and cooking trays.
 
Dairy industry
Considering hygiene as most important factor silicone is most popular choice in dairy industries. In this industry, freezing process takes place, which needs low temperature resistance gasket. Silicone is free of plasticisers which enables it to be used in fluid transfer application. Silicone tubing, silicone hose, etc are replacing PVC hoses for fluid transfer. Silicone surfaces can be cleaned very easily which prevents adherence of any fluid particle.
 
Vending industry
Vending machines are used for transfer of hot drinks like tea and coffee. Silicones have high thermal resistance properties along with low coefficient of friction. It protects thermal softening of product along with preventing residue adherence on tubing surface. Again polymer should not leach any toxic contents to deteriorate drink’s hygiene property. Silicone O rings, tube and hose gasket are used in vending machines.
 
Beverages
Nowadays silicones are most widely used as antifoam to reduce waste, production cost and increase productivity. Silicone easily complies with food grade requirements, which has caused innovation of application like silicone glass for serving wines. Apart from this, silicone gaskets are used in beverage processing and transfer equipment.
 
Silicone polymer easily meets with regulatory requirements like NSF-61, WRAS which makes them suitable for application in water purification and packaging industry. Silicones are also used as gaskets to seal the lid to the container for their airtight and waterproof characteristics. Most commonly used on bottles or food packs for decorative labels to enhance packaging design.
 
About the Author:
Vinay Pandey (B-Tech Rubber Technologist) is currently working at Ami Polymer Pvt Ltd. He can be contacted on Mob: +91 86910 13936 and email: tech@amipolymer.com

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