By Embryo

What is Food Grade Stainless Steel?

Many businesses involved in preparing food will rely heavily on food grade stainless steel. Using this type of metal, we at Salamander Fabrications make various equipment and instruments for our clients in the food and catering sectors

So, what is food grade stainless steel? Essentially, it is a form of steel that is resistant to corrosion, wear and tear, and leaching in ways that make it ideal for food preparation. These are the properties that make it food-safe. There are several different types available that have slightly different formulations for unique catering purposes.  

You can find out everything else you need to know by reading this guide, put together by trusted metalwork experts.

Food Grade Stainless Steel Explained

We regularly provide the food industry with sheet metal products. In the more than 50 years that we have been in business, we have extended our remit to supplying a broad range of sectors and businesses with items made from:

  • Mild steel
  • Aluminiums 
  • Yellow metals (excluding gold)

However, stainless steel is particularly often in demand among food businesses looking to fit out commercial and industrial kitchens with the likes of sinks, storage units and worktop surfaces.

This begs the question: what is food grade stainless steel specifically? Essentially, the term refers to any type of stainless steel known to be safe to use with food.

The rest of this easy-to-understand but comprehensive guide will explain the specifics of what it is and how it is used.

What Is It Used For?

The name itself refers to the various forms — or ‘grades’ — of stainless steel which subtly differ in their properties. Generally, though, it can be used for: 

  • Cooking: This is because the metal is ‘non-leachable’, meaning that it won’t compromise how dishes taste.
  • Preparing food: As some foods — like curries and sauces — are extremely acidic, it is convenient that this metal is corrosion resistant.
  • Sustainability: Did you know that stainless steel is wholly recyclable? It’s also extremely durable compared to other synthetic materials. As a result, using it can help your business to meet environmental goals.

How Is It Made?

Stainless steel is an alloy made of numerous metals — including iron, chromium and nickel. These constituent metals are sourced from rocks.

For the consequent steel to count as stainless steel, it must contain more than 10.5% chromium. Generally, though, the chromium concentration has to exceed 14-18% for the stainless steel to reach a ‘food grade’.

Mother Nature handles the rest of the manufacturing process, as when the chromium reacts with air or water, a passive but protective chromium oxide layer will form on the stainless steel’s surface.

The Benefits: Why Use Food Grade Stainless Steel?

As we have previously alluded to, exactly what benefits you gain can very much depend on what specific grade the particular steel is. However, common plus points of this steel include: 

  • Heat resistance: This is a prerequisite for stainless steel to be classed as ‘food grade’, and allows the metal to be safely used for handling hot food.
  • Long lifespan: Products can remain in good condition for some time due to being resistant to chipping and rusting.
  • Easily cleanable: Another appealing property is its smooth, non-porous surface, which makes it quick and easy to clean.

The Key Types of Food Grade Stainless Steel Available

By tweaking exactly how much of each element the metal contains, we can subtly modify its properties. This enables us to create sheet metal products tailored to suit specific applications.

This particular food safe metal is available in a wide range of grades each represented by a three-digit number. Though most of these stainless steels come in grades starting with a 3 or 4, the key grades are as follows:


This grade of stainless steel is chosen for many different products — like containers, sinks and pipes — that come into contact with food.

With its chromium content of 18% and nickel content surpassing 10%, this austenitic stainless steel is highly rust resistant. It is also chemically resistant to salt as well as strongly acidic foods, e.g. lemon and tomato juice.

Like other stainless steel alloys, SS316 can withstand temperatures much higher than what would usually be required at many stages of food processing.


The vast majority of companies in the food processing industry are likely to be able to benefit from the renowned affordability of 304-grade stainless steel.

This corrosion-resistant metal can hold up well when exposed to numerous oxidising agents — allowing it to be sanitised with ease. Many of your workers could come to especially appreciate this when working packed shifts.

Also, you can trust us with welding SS304 sheet metal particularly effectively — making it a great choice for such products as dishwashers and storage tanks.


Though SS430 food grade stainless steel has the same amount of chromium as the SS316 alternative, the former has far less nickel. This all means that SS430 is the most cost-effective option of the lot.

This — along with its impressive resistance to organic and nitric acids — often makes SS430 the go-to material in situations where the product is expected to long remain in contact with compounds containing such acids.

It would also be worthwhile for you to consider SS430 if you are particularly concerned about the risk of corrosion cracking.

Salamander Fabrications Provide Superior Quality Metals for the Food Industry

If you work in the food industry, why should you turn to Salamander Fabrications for metal fabrication needs?

One major reason why is that we can manufacture and provide food safe metal items not only in the quantities your business needs but also to commercial timelines. Take a closer look at the sheet metal fabrication services we offer.

Our Precision Equipment

We are able to handle your metal fabrication project entirely in-house at our Huddersfield premises. 

This is largely due to the specialist equipment we maintain and use onsite. We also regularly assess and update this machinery to keep pace with new developments in metal fabrication technology.

A Team of Metal Fabrication Experts

Here are just some of the reasons why our team can fabricate high-quality metal products for your business:

  • Our expertise in manufacturing processes for metals
  • The various metal fabrication techniques we can apply
  • Our ability to operate niche machinery 
  • We make everything to order 

We can help food businesses based anywhere in the UK. Simply contact us via our online enquiry form.

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