Industry is littered with regulations that are often misunderstood, poorly   communicated and acted on incorrectly, and this is especially relevant in oil based heat transfer systems in the food and drug industries. Here, both DSEAR?and ATEX apply, and there is also a regulatory need for Food Grade (FG) oils to be used in food areas, explains Clive Jones, Global Heat Transfer 

Compliance is often seen as another piece of red tape in the way of achieving a business’s objectives, but independent testing in particular is important, as is correct sampling procedure and expert analysis, and planned maintenance.

The safest way to comply with current regulations is by getting a professional company to do a number of checks on the oil currently used. Global Heat Transfer conducts 11 individual tests, while many others only do eight or less.

Accurate samples

To get an accurate picture, thermal fluid samples must be collected at their operating temperature when the fluid is hot and circulating. Older oil will naturally be more glutinous, so if the sample is taken with the system running and at the required temperature, it will make for a better reading and ensure the usual turbulent flow is taking place. There is a difference in consistency between samples at working temperature and dormant samples, affecting the way the fuel like light fractions mix.

If a manufacturer were to have an accident due to the oil system, resulting in an investigation, it needs to know that its flash point values were tested correctly. Obtaining a closed sample, or ‘bomb’ will ensure that no potential atmospheric particles have contaminated it and distorted results.

Where an ‘open’ sample is collected, the most volatile (lowest flash point) specimens will automatically escape and flash off to the atmosphere, instead of being allowed to cool and condense back into the sample, where it can be decanted under laboratory conditions. Light ends consist of a homologous mix of hydrocarbons with different boiling/flash points. In the case of open samples, as the lowest flash point material has been vented off, incorrect (too high) flash point values will be returned to give an inaccurate result

Food grade oils

Pharmaceuticals and food regulations are much stricter and, when using oil based heat transfer, the oil must be fully H1 or HT1 certified as a food grade thermal fluid by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the NSF International respectively. If there is any possibility for oil or lubricant to come into contact with food products, a certified food grade fluid must be used to safeguard consumer health.

Food grade oil is very important in the food processing industry and is designed not to contaminate food. So, should an accident happen, there would be no need for product recalls.

Failure to use food grade oil in a food application can result in the loss of the manufacturer’s top tier accreditation, should EFSIS (the European Food Safety Inspection Service, part of SAI Global Insurance Services) learn that inappropriate product is being used. EFSIS is a party independent inspection and certification service for retailers, manufacturers, farmers and caterers, throughout the world, and is often an essential requirement for trading with supermarkets and retail chains.

High quality food grade oil is non hazardous, non toxic and odourless, which means it requires no special handling and is not considered a controlled substance under various workplace regulations. This certainly applies to Globaltherm’s food grade oil, which also performs better than non FG products and reduces carbon build up.


There are also two ATEX directives which companies in the EU must follow. These directives are the ATEX 95 equipment directive 94/9/EC, intended to ensure equipment complies to help prevent the risk of explosion, and the ATEX 137 workplace directive 99/92/EC, intended to improve overall safety of staff. Employers must warn their employees where the hazardous areas and explosive atmospheres can be found.

Furthermore, these areas should be separately zoned and classified depending on the risk of explosion.  Equipment and protective systems intended to be used in zoned areas must meet ATEX requirements.

Another directive to adhere to is DSEAR, which is the UK’s version of ATEX. DSEAR has been implemented to help reduce the risk to employees resulting from dangerous substances igniting or exploding. Examples of dangerous substances as defined by DSEAR include sawdust, ethanol vapours, and hydrogen gas.

These regulations may seem confusing but they must be adhered to in order to protect employees, so food manufacturers need to make sure they conduct regular independent testing correctly.

Global Heat Transfer

T: 01785 760555