Lubrication of chains, rollers, bearings and other moving parts in high-heat environments presents a potential problem to food manufacturers.

Many conventional lubricants are not designed for high-temperature applications, and those that are, including graphite and

kerosene raw materials, can cause problems of cross-contamination, pollution, smoke and smell.

In addition to meeting standards for incidental food contact and temperature performance, lubricants for food applications often must be able to withstand frequent washdowns, provide protection against sources of corrosion, resist dripping, and withstand frequent temperature changes.

In the case of MexAmerica Foods, a St. Mary's, Pa.-based manufacturer of specialty and kosher-certified tortillas, tortilla chips, fajita products and seasonings, lubricant breakdown resulted in frequent interruptions to its production lines.

The operation has a series of continuous ovens working under temperatures of between 400 degrees F and 600 degrees F, and relies on a series of belts and chains to transport food items through its corn and flour ovens. Kem-A-Trix, a specialty lubricant manufacturer, recommended use of its 00T 800F Belt & Chain lubricant. Formulated with a proprietary blend of specialty high-temperature oils, including polyalphaolefins, the lubricant has been designed to perform under temperatures of -40 degrees F to 800 degrees F. It is USDA H1 and Kosher/ Halal-approved for food applications, and does not melt, drip or smoke.

Since MexAmerica adopted the lubricant, it has significantly helped improve oven performance and reduced maintenance resources.

Kem-A-Trix (Lubricants) Inc., P.O. Box 580, Champlain, NY 12919-0580. Tel: (206) 764-4668; fax (206) 764-7213.