BIRMINGHAM — In Water Technology’s Contaminant of the Month section featured in a previous issue, Technical Editor Dr. Joseph Cotruvo writes about water reuse for food and beverage producers. Cotruvo takes a closer look at how water can be used and minimized, appropriate uses and water quality specifications, as well as the International Life Sciences Institute’s (ILSI) guidelines for reuse in beverage production and food processing.

Food and beverage producers, explains Cotruvo in the article, are often limited by local availability and shortages, increasing costs to obtain and treat water prior to discharge, regulatory restrictions and seasonal variations.

Cotruvo continues that water is a major component for all beverages as well as an important part for the production of many food products.

“Food producers need water for washing agricultural products and for canning,” states Cotruvo. “Beverage bottlers need water for washing returnable containers, and both beverage and food producers need water for cleaning process equipment, as well as for general cleaning and sanitation associated with the facility.”

Regarding water quality specifications, Cotruvo says that producing beverages and food requires high quality water, and producers must also consider consumers concerns and competitive pressures.

“There are just three significant options for obtaining new water when needed: Conservation, desalination of salt or brackish water when it is available, and multiple reuse and reducing the water footprint of the facility,” reports Cotruvo regarding how water can be controlled and minimized for food and beverage production. “The goal is to optimize the use of the available water to reduce waste and wastewater discharges, thereby also reducing those process costs and regulatory restrictions.”

Cotruvo adds that the objective for controlling and minimizing water use, when necessary, is to identify water quality suitable for the end use as well as to select the most cost-effective approaches available to safely suit the needs for the water.

In the article, Cotruvo discusses a few key components of the ILSI guidelines for reuse in food and beverage production:

  • The ILSI document is titled, “Water Recovery and Reuse: Guidelines for Safe Application of Water Conservation Methods in Beverage Production and Food Processing.” You can find the guidelines here.
  • The purpose was to demonstrate the feasibility to reuse certain wastewaters for nonproduct-contact applications and thereby increase the efficiency of water use where it is necessary and beneficial to the producer.
  • The guidelines are applicable to recycled non-sanitary wastewater, recycled processing wash waters and collected rainwater, and minimal product- or nonproduct-contact applications, such as washing returnable containers and cleaning process equipment.
  • The guidelines address both high-end, in-plant uses and low-end, non-plant uses.
  • World Health Organization’s (WHO) drinking water quality guidelines are the basis for the high-end uses, and other specifications are provided for low-end uses.
  • The guidelines recommend Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) management systems to assure consistent quality, and it also suggests an 11-step approach for evaluating the circumstances and deciding upon the path for a particular application.
  • There are also several examples of case studies to illustrate existing applications.

You can find the Contaminant of the Month feature on water reuse for food and beverage producers here.