All that shines grey is not necessarily ‘food grade’

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Indian homes use a lot of steel for their cooking and dining needs because of its affordability, durability and rust resistant base. While stainless steel is ubiquitous in the home, are we truly aware of whether the stainless steel that we use is actually safe for our bodies With this article, we shed light on food grade stainless steel and bust the myth that all that shines grey is not necessarily food grade.

Types of Food Grade Stainless Steel

What is Stainless Steel?  It is the corrosion-resistant alloy of iron, chromium and, in some cases, nickel and other metals. Completely and infinitely recyclable, stainless steel is the “green material” par excellence. An alloy with more than 10.5% chromium qualifies for it to be stainless steel, but generally an alloy with more than 14-18% chromium makes it food safe or food grade.  With a minimum chromium content of 10.5%, stainless steel is continuously protected by a passive layer of chromium oxide that forms naturally on the surface through the reaction of the chromium with oxygen from air or water.

In simpler terms, any stainless steel (SS) grades that  is resistant to wear and tear and has heat resistance in such a way that it's safe for the use of cooking various types of food is referred to as "food-grade." Food-grade SS often has a greater chromium content, giving it the ability to resist corrosion. There are several food-grade stainless steels available in the market today. Know what works for you and your family best.

SS 316 – When making food-quality stainless steel containers, SS grade 316 is typically a preferable option for everyday cooking for smaller families. When dealing with salt and stronger acids like lemon or tomato juice, 316 SS is more chemically resistant. It is typically used in a range of applications. It has a chromium content of 18% and nickel of more than 10% making it highly rust resistant.

SS 304 – The more popular kind of stainless steel, SS grade 304 is frequently seen in industrial settings, hospital  and in kitchen appliances. It has excellent corrosion resistance to numerous chemical corrodents, and has a chromium and nickel content of 18% and 8%, respectively.

SS 430 – Due to its relatively low cost, appealing polish, and improved resistance to specific forms of corrosion, SS grade 430 is commonly used in cooking for larger gatherings.  Being corrosion resistant, SS grade 430  is widely used in industrial kitchen and catering equipment's. It has a chromium content of 18% but no nickel, which makes it more economical while still qualifying as food grade SS.

The above are preferred grades of stainless steel which are also used in commercial kitchens and which slightly vary basis the composition that makes them suitable for different environments and usage. Now that we understand the types of grades, we should also be aware of a range of considerations such as - the kind of operating environment (temperatures, humidity, extreme weather conditions etc.) and tensile strength are factors that also impact the performance of stainless steel.

The benefits of using food grade stainless-steel cookware:

Ensuring that you are using the correct grade of stainless steel is important since low grade stainless steel does not allow for even food

Non leachable

Stainless steel is non leachable which makes it safe for cooking, without compromising flavour and taste of dishes.

Non-reactive

Unlike other metals, stainless steel does not easily corrode when exposed to certain acidic foods. This means there is no danger of chemicals mixing with a meal when one prepares extremely acidic foods like tomato sauces and curry dishes.

Environment friendly

Stainless steel is a green material because it is 100 % recyclable. Iron, chromium, nickel, and a few more metals are used to make stainless steel. These metals are non-renewable resources that are obtained from rocks. Due to these metals, stainless steel is a great option for the environment.

Versatile

The best grade of stainless steel, used with the appropriate temperature settings, can go into the oven.  Since it does not damage easily, stainless steel is also dishwasher safe. It is also easy to use since it is not as heavy as other materials like cast iron.

Durable and Robust

Stainless steel is the material of choice as opposed to the more commonly used "non-stick" cookware's chippable coating or staining. It does not chip and is rust resistant, giving it a longe lifespan which can go into decades.

Easy & Quick to Clean

Stainless steel cookware is simple to clean due to its smooth, non-porous surface. Although stainless steel is resilient, sometimes harsh sponges can leave scratches behind. The best way is to soak pots and pans in warm detergent water and then load it onto the dishwasher.

Stainless steel is a global phenomenon that is used in everything from kitchenware to surgical instruments and other operations. When it comes to the kitchen, using the right quality, food grade stainless steel can ensure that the meals that you and your family have are safe and healthy.

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