Your favorite pack of crisps, the pastries from your bakery and the pizza from your neighborhood pizza place all have an essential ingredient in common that is not even listed in your ingredient list. That may sound like a cause for concern, but there’s no need to be worried; this ingredient is not listed because it is not actually consumed by you. Well, it is, but in trace amounts, which are almost negligible.
This substance doesn’t really go into your food. But without it, it is not possible for pizza, waffles, and various types of snacks and bakery items to be baked and made ready. Even though it doesn’t directly go into your food, rest assured that all food manufacturing places use a very high-quality version of this ingredient, because even tiny amounts of substances used in food manufacturing are heavily monitored so that they are safe for consumption.
Okay, enough mystery. We’re talking about food release agents. Never heard of them? Lots of people haven’t. It is not a very common ingredient in most households, but all food items made commercially in food manufacturing factories utilize it and know just how important it is.
What Are Release Agents?
Release agents, or parting agents, are substances that are used in production facilities as a barrier between the product and the mold, belt, or pan. A release agent is used to coat the surface where the product is going to be sitting so that the high temperatures and chemicals don’t make the products stick to the surface. This substance also serves to stop the food items from getting contaminated with the material of the surfaces that they sit on. Due to this, release agents are also often referred to as lubricants, but that could be misleading because lubricating isn’t the only function of release agents.
The ideal release agent will ensure:
High-quality production by making sure that the details, design, and composition of the product are like they should be.
High volume production by making the production lines move swiftly with very little going wrong.
Highly economical production by making sure that there is very little wastage from sticking or spoiling.
Where Are Release Agents Used?
Release agents are used in the manufacturing processes of a myriad of industries from concrete to auto parts to yes, even food! The grade and the quality of release agents vary with the purpose of the finished products. Of course, in food and medicines, the release agents are required to be of the highest possible quality that is safe for human consumption, while with plastic and concrete, other criteria might be of more relevance.
A handful of industries where release agents are used are metal processing, aircraft and aerospace, polymer and plastic processing, automotive, glass and paper coating, rubber processing, and food production and packaging.
What Are Some Common Release Agents?
Some of the most widely-used release agents across all industries include:
Petroleum / mineral oil-based
Synthetic / semi-synthetic
Natural (vegetable oil/animal fat)
Ester / diester
Wax / stearate
Release agents are usually manufactured by chemical or oil companies. These companies have deep knowledge of the chemical composition of each agent, so they are able to suggest agents that are suitable for a specific industry or the end item being produced. For example, it would be disastrous to use a graphite molding agent in medicine production as it would be toxic to humans.
What Classifies As Food Grade Release Agents?
While most of you must be familiar with the ‘grades’ of products, let’s review them for those who are not well-versed in this topic.
The ‘grade’ of a product is assessed and decided on the basis of its quality, freshness, and technical characteristics. The different grades that exist are food-grade, technical-grade, and several others, depending on the product.
For a product to be food-grade, it has to be completely safe for human consumption. It has to be non-toxic, nonirritant, and must be safe for consumption.
The term food grade is not only used to describe ingredients in food production; it is also used to specify the quality of the equipment used. Why are there such strict rules for something that is not even directly a part of our food items? This is to ensure that even if a bit of the release agent seeps into our food, it will be entirely and totally safe and won’t cause any adverse effects on the human body.
Silicone, once treated accordingly, is one example of a food-grade release agent used in food manufacturing. It can endure hot temperatures and acidic environments without leaching dangerous chemicals that can enter the food items.
Nowadays, with people turning to everything organic, organic food release agents have also started gaining some traction. Organic food releases are vegetable-based and certified by authorities in accordance with USDA guidelines. Considered to be even healthier and safer than chemical release agents, many bakeries, businesses, and factories are opting for organic food release agents.
Of course, you might need to choose different release agents for different types of food items, too. There are various factors that might come into play when choosing a release agent. It is advised to carefully consider these factors before making your decision, as the wrong release agent can compromise on the quality of the product.
Role of Release Agents in Food Processing
As mentioned earlier, release agents are used to coat the surface of conveyor belts, metallic trays, or any container in which food is placed during the food manufacturing process. If you need a proper, relatable explanation of what a release agent does, think about how people bake cakes. Traditionally, people line their baking trays with flour or grease to perform the same task as a release agent.
For industrial purposes, though, chemical food grade release agents are utilized. Food-grade release agents are used even in small bakeries because dough is prone to sticking to surfaces, which causes it to burn and get wasted. Bakery paper, available in markets, is usually coated with cured silicone-based release agents.
What to Look for When Choosing Food Grade Release Agents
There are several types of release agents, and their properties are what will make the final decision of whether you want to use it in your particular line of production. Let’s look at a few types and determine if they’ll work in food production and processing.
One of the first considerations before choosing a release agent will be if you want a semi-permanent release agent or a sacrificial one. The key difference between the two is that one can last a few cycles, while the other needs to be reapplied after every cycle. So their permanence differs.
Semi-permanent release agents, once applied, can function for multiple cycles and do not need to be reapplied over and over again after every cycle. This makes the application less labor-intensive and possibly more economical too.
How many cycles the semi-permanent release agent lasts is dependent on a few factors, such as the materials and chemicals being used, and the cleanliness of the surface on which it is applied.
On the other hand, there are sacrificial release agents that need to be reapplied after the completion of every cycle or batch. Because of the extra effort expended on reapplications, sacrificial release agents are more labor-intensive and may even turn out to be heavier on the pocket because of the quantity being used.
Water or Solvent-Based
Release agents are either water-based or solvent-based, which is pretty self-explanatory. There are some hazardous complications involved here, though, and thus, most food processing utilizes water-based agents.
With water as a base, this type of release agent dries slower than solvent-based releases. Water-based agents are generally cheaper, have lesser rules and regulations, are easier to transport, and most importantly, are safer.
Solvent-based release agents are generally not permissible for food products at all because they present grave health and safety hazards. They dry almost immediately, but the fumes can be poisonous.
What Should You Choose for Your Food Production Facility?
There is no pre-determined answer to this. It will largely depend on the type of food item you’re producing, and its individual needs and requirements. It is highly suggested that you hire a chemical engineer and quality-control officer who would provide better guidance and advice specific to your product.
Maverik Oils Food-Grade Organic Release Agents
At Maverik Oils, we realize the importance of efficient and effective release agents in baking. Maverik Release Agents assures spotless and effortless removal of an assortment of baked goods, with superior results and lesser costs.
Maverik release agents attribute high resistance to oxidation, ensuring the absence of a sticky residue and guarantee extended shelf life. Maverik Oils stocks a variety of the finest quality organic release agents for all your food processing needs.
We hold ourselves to the highest standards of quality, and our release agents are formulated in accordance with the food safety guidelines and laws. Some of the organic food release agents that we offer are:
Organic Waffle Release
Organic Pizza Release
Organic Brown and Serve
Snack Food Release
White Mineral Oil
Cake Pan Oil
Organic Pan Oils
Organic Trough Grease
Organic Divider Oil
Organic Slicer Oil
Organic Band Oils
Organic Cake Pan Oil
You can call us to get quotations for what you need. We offer delivery in bulk, too.