When choosing a surface for your kitchen, you should look for a few key characteristics. Food contact surfaces must be nonporous, smooth, and strong enough to withstand frequent cleanings. They must also be free from pores and crevices that may harbor bacteria and food particles. Below are some examples of food contact surfaces and what they should be made of. Read on to learn more about the characteristics of food contact surfaces.


Stainless steel is the most popular material for use as a food contact surface, and the most commonly used material is 304. In order to use stainless steel for food contact purposes, it must be listed as ‘food-grade’. There are three variations of stainless steel: 316, 430, and 304. Each of these grades has unique requirements and applications, but they all share the same characteristics: smooth and ultra-smooth.


A nonporous food contact surface is easy to clean and must be free of large irregularities. The roughness of a surface is thought to affect attachment and removal of food materials. A rougher surface requires longer cleaning processes. The most commonly used measure of surface roughness is the Ra value, which is the average deviation of the profile from a centre line calculated at a specified distance from the surface. Ideally, a nonporous food contact surface should be no more than 0.8 mm in Ra. Higher values of Ra may be acceptable if the surface can be cleaned thoroughly.

Easy to clean

In order to serve foods safely in schools, the surfaces where students prepare and serve food must be sanitized frequently. It is best to choose materials that are easy to clean and sanitize. Smooth, non-porous materials are preferred over rough surfaces such as wood. However, if these surfaces are unavoidable, the recommended cleaning techniques must be adhered to. For example, wooden equipment should be thoroughly washed with detergent or soap, then rinsed. This includes walls of the pack shed or barrel washers.


A nontoxic food contact surface is a nonporous material that is safe to use for direct food contact. These surfaces are made of stainless steel and plastic, but they can also be wood, rubber, ceramics, or glass. This chapter discusses the decontamination of food contact surfaces and some emerging techniques. Although this chapter does not deal with biofilm, it does discuss the importance of sanitizing surfaces. This is important because biofilm is often resistant to cleaning methods, and can easily survive on a food contact surface for long periods of time.

Free of breaks, open seams, cracks, and similar imperfections

Multi-use surfaces for food preparation and contact with food must be smooth, free of sharp internal corners or angles, and easily cleanable. Food-contact surfaces must also be easy to maintain and disinfect. All surfaces should be in good repair and easily wipe clean. All surfaces must be free of any holes or stains. For easy cleaning, nonfood surfaces should be free of holes, cracks, and other defects.

Stainless steel

The FDA defines a food contact surface as a piece of equipment or a surface that is exposed to food. This type of surface is often made of food-grade materials or sanitary metals. It must be strong enough to withstand frequent washing and avoid buckles that could allow bacteria or food particles to grow. In addition, the surface must be smooth and free of pores and crevices. Stainless steel, for example, meets all of these requirements.

Nonporous materials

A list of nonporous materials for food contact surfaces is short, but the truth is much longer. Most hard surfaces, such as stainless steel, granite, and various types of tile, are porous. The difference is in the size of the holes. Small holes are under five nanometers, while large ones are up to 100 micrometers in diameter. The right material for food contact surfaces is one that meets the most stringent standards.