Stainless Steel Surface Treatments for Food & Beverage

Stainless Steel Surface Treatments for Food & Beverage

Stainless steel is used to maintain quality and safety in food and beverage production. Its durability, strength, corrosion resistance, and superior performance over time make it ideal for food-grade applications.

Surface treatment is critical for maintaining necessary hygiene standards and extending the lifespan of your stainless steel equipment. Read on to learn how surface treatments support operations in this industry.

How Surface Treatments Elevate Food-Grade Stainless Steel Performance

While stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, it isn't completely immune to corrosion. Surface treatments use a process called passivation to create a thin protective oxide layer on the steel piece's surface. Pre-cleaning is important, as it creates the proper environment for the oxide layer to form.

Pre-Cleaning for Optimal Stainless Steel Performance

Pre-cleaning involves removing all contamination from the surface of stainless steel parts. After manufacturing, the parts are placed into an acid bath. A thin oxide film forms as the steel parts are removed. This protective film is designed to withstand external influences, including food and beverage products.

Machining, grinding, and welding can damage this film, creating areas with the potential to harbor bacteria. Damage can also occur during the fabrication process through exposure to dust, dirt, loose particles, or scratches.

Special mechanical, chemical, and electrochemical cleaning techniques can be used prior to sanitary service to create a smooth, defect-free surface. After these treatments, the oxide film spontaneously reforms.

The Benefits of Using Surface Treatments for Food-Grade Stainless Steel Equipment

Stainless steel treatments do more than smooth surfaces for production. Additional benefits of utilizing this process in your operations include:

  • Improved cleanliness
  • Enhanced corrosion resistance
  • Reduced wear-and-tear on equipment

These properties come together to extend the operational life of equipment and maintain adherence to the strict production and cleaning conditions required in food service.

Common Stainless Steel Surface Treatments for Food & Beverage Applications

Stainless Steel Surface Treatments for Food & Beverage

Various treatments are used to prepare stainless steel products for food and beverage applications. One or more of these treatments can be used to achieve the desired results.

Mechanical Polishing

Polishing creates a smooth easily cleanable surface with minimal crevices for bacteria to hide. Different grits are used to achieve the desired finish.

While many food-grade stainless steel products meet requirements with ordinary mechanical polishing other products may require polishing with a finer grit to achieve a mirror finish.


Electropolishing removes material from a metallic workpiece using a temperature-controlled electrolyte bath and an electric current to dissolve the material’s surface layer. The result is a microscopically smooth non-stick surface with superior cleanability and corrosion resistance.


During manufacturing, stainless steel surfaces can be exposed to chemicals and oxide film damage. Passivation can be used to restore or enhance the natural passive oxide film on the stainless steel surface.

The process may also be necessary after certain cleaning methods (like pickling in an acid bath) that can disrupt the oxide layer.

Contact Our Team to Discuss Your Food-Grade Stainless Steel Needs

Stainless Steel Surface Treatments for Food & Beverage

Surface treatments optimize stainless steel food-grade materials to smooth surfaces on a microscopic scale, so germs and food byproducts can’t stick to the metal. Marlin Steel's custom-made wire food baskets, trays, and carts can treated to meet your specifications with the ideal surface treatment for your production needs.

Contact us today to discuss custom stainless steel wire food baskets that promote superior cleanability and corrosion resistance for your food and beverage operation.