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Is 304 Stainless Steel Food Grade?

Updated April 17, 2017

Chances are you already have Type 304 (T304) stainless steel in your kitchen. You can find it in tableware, cookware, kitchen appliances, and even cabinetry. In fact, this food-grade steel is used throughout the food industry.

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T304 is easy to sanitise, malleable, and durable, and it has a pleasing appearance. Most important, it is safe for use with food.


T304 has a minimum of 10 per cent chromium, 8 per cent nickel, a maximum of 0.8 per cent carbon, and more than 50 per cent iron. The exact proportions of these and other trace elements depend on the specific uses planned for end product.

Rust Resistant

An important characteristic of T304 that makes it suitable for food use is that it is corrosion-resistant. Chromium binds oxygen on the surface and protects the iron component from oxidation (rust).


Despite the fact that T304 is safe to use with foods, you should not store foods or liquids for long periods of time in T304 containers. Although T304 resists rust, the oxygen forming the protective surface with chromium can become depleted during long-term storage, allowing corrosion to occur.


The first use of T304 was in brewing and milk production but it was adopted rapidly throughout the food processing industry. T304 products will last several human lifetimes when properly maintained.

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About the Author

Virginia Cowart

Virginia Cowart is a medical writer formerly based in Chicago, whose articles appeared in JAMA and other medical publications. She is co-author of two books on anabolic steroids. Now living in Arkansas, she writes about whatever interests her.

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