My company uses a number of vacuum pumps for our freeze-dryers. The pumps use a non-food grade oil, and are situated on the processing floor. However, the design and placement of the pumps is such that oil cannot come into contact with the food during operation. As I understand it, the pump is a closed system and no oil is discharged.
Speaking with the pump manufacturer, at this time they don't have any food-grade alternative for this pump oil. Of course, they don't recommend using any vacuum pump oil other than their own brand either Given no alternative, am I correct in the assessment that the use of non-food grade oil on these vacuum pumps cannot result in "incidental contact", given that the supply of oil is kept off the production floor and the pumps themselves are enclosed systems?
I spoke with the pump manufacturer and their stance was that in 20+ years of working with these pumps on freeze-drying equipment, no one has taken issue with the food-grade status of the oil...Maybe I'm worried about nothing!