Metal Release and Corrosion of Stainless Steel in Simulated Food Contact

University dissertation from KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Knowledge on metal release behaviour of stainless steels used in food processing applications and cooking utensils is essential within the framework of human health risk assessments. Recently, a new European test guideline (the CoE protocol) has been implemented to ensure safety of metals and alloys in food contact, such as stainless steels. This guideline suggests 5 gL-1 citric acid (pH 2.4) as a food simulant for acidic foods of pH ≤ 4.5. So far, limited assessments exist that investigate the correlation between the bioaccessibility, material characteristics, corrosion behaviour and surface chemistry of stainless steel for food application tests using citric acid. Therefore, this doctoral thesis comprises an in–depth interdisciplinary and multi–analytical research effort to fill this knowledge gap.This work includes thorough investigations of a range of stainless steel grades in simulated food contact as a function of different important parameters such as grades, surface finish, temperature, pH, solution composition, metal complexation and buffering capacity, concentration of the complex forming agents, loading, and repeated usage. This is accomplished by kinetic studies of metal release, electrochemical, and surface analytical investigations. Another focus of this thesis is to assess the dominating metal release process in citric acid or chloride containing solutions of varying pH.This study suggests protonation (at acidic pH) and surface complexation (at weakly acidic and neutral pH) as the predominant metal release mechanisms for stainless steel in citric acid solutions. Solution complexation may also play a role by hindering metal precipitation at weakly acidic and neutral pH, and metal release from surface defects / inclusions may initially be important for non-passivated surfaces.

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