Dairy processing

When it comes to designing food processing equipment, it’s best to be mindful of even the smallest elements, like gaskets and related materials. We spoke to Donald J. Restly, President of GMI, to learn why it’s important that manufacturers understand sanitary standards and select equipment components that meet those standards.

Specializing in gaskets and gasket materials, GMI got its start in 1979 with automotive products. The company later branched out to serve equipment manufacturers in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, dairy, and food industries with a portfolio that includes calendered rubber sheeting; die, laser, and lathe cut products; and extruded, laminated, and molded rubber products. 

Protecting food safety through certifications

Food safe equipment requires food safe components, as well as the certifications to prove it. Restly says part of GMI’s work is educating customers on this matter, helping them “realize that if they're producing specially made 3-A sanitary equipment, they need the right certifications for the materials that were independently tested and certified that they are in conformance with the applicable standards.” 

The 3-A Sanitary Standards set criteria for how food-contact equipment should be designed and manufactured to ensure safety and cleanability. 3-A-certified products can also be traced via a code number, which tracks specific information like sourcing, materials, and treatments. These details can help manufacturers investigate various food safety issues.

There’s also a regulation set forth by the FDA regarding which materials are safe for use with food, as well as the conditions under which they become safe. Still, Restly encounters a lot of products falsely claiming to be FDA approved. “There are really no gaskets or gasket materials approved by the FDA that I know of,” he explains. “With FDA, you have to meet certain ingredient requirements in your compounds, and those have to meet certain maximum percentages by weight as well as pass extraction tests. A lot of people say their materials are FDA approved, when what they mean is that their ingredients are FDA listed, not necessarily that they went through the testing the FDA requires.” 

GMI takes every step necessary to ensure their products have the proper certifications. The company is ISO 9001:2015 registered, and its products were independently tested to and are certified that they are in conformance with FDA, USDA, 3-A Sanitary, USP Class VI, and ANSI/NSF standards. Recently, the USDA accepted the company’s new strainer barrier gasket for use in USDA inspected dairy plants.

GMI is also able to provide short lead times, delivering products within a matter of weeks or less. “Once a product is established with us and we get some idea of what the usage will be,” Restly adds, “we'll stock it so we have a short turnaround for it.”

The 2019 PROCESS EXPO will be GMI’s first appearance on the show floor. “I've always looked at PROCESS EXPO as a way to get in front of new food industry customers,” Restly says. “So we thought that this year we'd give it a shot.”

To learn more about sanitary gaskets and seals, visit GMI at PROCESS EXPO, Booth #4654.