Should You Use Silicone Sponge Sheets in the Food Industry?

The demand for silicone sponge sheets has been rapidly increasing over the last few decades. Silicone sponge created from the gum-based polydimethylsiloxane (PMDS) has an excellent cellular construction that comprises mainly non-interconnecting cells.  

PMDS is a silicone inorganic polymer that is chemically inert and non-inflammable. Hence, it is a popular choice in different industries, including the food industry. 

Understanding the Importance of FDA Compliance 

FDA approved or FDA compliant means more than just safe for food contact. When a material achieves FDA approval, it generally means it is a food-grade material. It is made of the correct composition of materials, and the right type that makes it safe for food contact. 

What is Food Grade?

Food grade means it is okay for the material to come into direct contact with food products.

Food Grade Silicone 

The silicone sponge sheet is FDA approved and considered an ideal material for the food, medical, and pharmaceutical industry. The FDA has conducted extensive tests on the full list of ingredients in the silicone sponge formula. The sponge can be safely used in food applications, whether the food is fatty, aqueous, or dry. 

Understanding Properties of Silicone Sponge 

When silicone elastomers are heat cured, it creates a closed-cell sponge structure. The expanding process of the material creates compressible air pockets. It is similar to the addition of the yeast to bread, which raises the flour. The closed-cell sponge has many advantages of solid silicone but is softer and malleable. 

The silicone sponge sheet can withstand extreme temperature ranges from -60°C to 260°C. The material also has UV and ozone resistance apart from a closed-cell structure that does not allow the passing of the moisture. Also, the impervious nature of the silicone sponge makes it microbial resistant. 

Understanding the Molecular Structure of Silicone 

Silicone has an unusual molecular structure of the polymer backbone. It has silicon atoms alternating oxygen atoms. The silicon-oxygen linkage is similar to quartz and glass, which is a food-safe material. The inorganic silicon-oxygen double bonds give the material rodent repellent properties and fungal resistance. Its molecular structure also makes silicone suitable in food-grade applications. 

Silicon also has high compressibility and high permeability to gases. It is highly resistant to oxidative attacks by UV rays and ozone, especially at higher temperatures. Silicone is odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic, which is why it is used to manufacture many food-grade products. 

Applications of Food-Grade Silicone 

Food safety is critical in every part of the world. Food products for international and domestic markets have to follow food safety standards. Using food-grade machine parts is essential, or the food license may get canceled. The food-grade silicone is widely used across the world to manufacture food products

The sponge sheets are used to make food-grade silicone gaskets for the food processing industry’s unique needs. Damaged components can lead to accidents in food manufacturing units. When gaskets made of food-grade silicone are used, there is no risk of chemical reactions that may lead to leakages. Also, as the food passes through food-grade silicone gaskets, there is no risk of food contamination due to extreme chemical compounds or excessive heat.  

Thus, you can see the physical and chemical properties of food-grade silicone comply with the FDA guidelines for food-grade elastomers. Hence, it is incredibly safe to use silicone sponge sheeting in the food industry. 

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