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Water Treatment In The Food Industry

Supplier: Culligan Australia
04 December, 2008

In the food industry water plays a large number of roles, often at the same time

CEEquipment according to CE Directives in force It may be an ingredient, and it may be used in preparation and in the process, as well of course as its more general use as utility water. Each of these applications requires a specific type of water, which optimises the outcome, minimises production costs and conserves equipment. Culligan has built up special experience in the treatment of water for the food industry: its range of products and systems offers a logical solution, at the technological state of the art, for each type of problem.


In the food industry, a large proportion of the water consumed is used to prepare foods for the cooking and processing stages: washing vegetables, soaking legumes, farming shellfish, washing animals after slaughter, etc. As in other phases, the quality of the water is important, but the costs also have to be borne in mind: for example, it takes 40 litres of water to wash a kg of spinach, and 500 litres to wash the meat from one beef carcass. It is therefore advisable to install systems which allow at least some of the water used in this phase to be recycled, especially if the volumes used are high.


Water is not just a drink; it is also to a large extent a food, and it is a fundamental ingredient in an immense variety of foods. Rice, pasta, legumes and soups are just among the most common products which contain a high percentage of water once they have been cooked and packaged in a can or another form of container.

In the sector of soft drinks and fruit juices made starting from a concentrate, the quality of the water is so important that the world's leading producers have set down the characteristics which the water used for producing the drink (or for diluting the concentrate, if the drink is distributed by a pressurised dispenser) absolutely must meet. It is the responsibility of the water treatment expert to deliver a clearly defined product, of constant quality, starting from water of often widely varying properties In spirits (whisky, vodka, etc.) water is involved both in making the product (the fermentation of the cereals) and in the dilution phase, to bring the alcohol content down to the level required for sale. Brewers also require the water they use, a fundamental ingredient of their product, to comply with precisely defined, standard analysis characteristics, to ensure that even if it is produced in breweries in different countries world-wide, their beer will always have the same flavour and fragrance. Wherever water is an ingredient in a production process, it must always offer a number of specific characteristics:

  • excellent organoleptic quality (no flavours or smells which might affect the taste of the product);
  • constant chemico-physical composition. Often the producer requires the company contracted to treat the water used to deliver water with preset characteristics, which have proved ideal for achievement of product quality, and vital in maintaining its characteristics constant. For obvious reasons, this strategy is essential when a very well known, widely consumed product is produced in different factories, sometimes spread across the entire world. The job of the water treatment specialist is to supply a product of preset, always identical quality, starting from water of often very different properties.


After mentioning the many and varied ways in which water becomes part of food, we will now return to its primary function as a drink. As such we can find it coming out of our ordinary taps, made drinkable by the waterworks authorities, or further improved by a point-of-use-treatment, or further purified, bottled and distributed in containers, which make it easy to dispense, chill and heat (for making hot drinks). The purified water in the 5-gallon (18.9-litre) Goccione® is water completely purified by a Reverse Osmosis treatment, to which mineral salts of the type and in the quantity ideal for the human body are then added. The purification process guarantees the purity, goodness and safety of the water dispensed. The Culligan service does the rest: it delivers it to your home, guarantees service for the dispenserand takes back empties. You have only to enjoy drinking good, pure, safe water.


The water necessary for the production process must be produced "to measure" in order to meet all the producer's needs, which may vary depending on the type of process, the raw materials used and the machinery utilised for production. Here again, the water treatment specialist must be able to produce water which optimises the outcome, conserves machinery and allows elimination of every possible problem arising from the use of unsuitable water.


The general utilities are basically the same in every industrial sector, and so in this area the food industry does not have any unique requirements. However, it is worth giving careful consideration to the water used for these more humble uses, not only in order to provide the highest possible level of comfort in the work place, but also with a view to achieving substantial economies on overheads: heating, hot water and air-conditioning systems work better and cost less if a specific type of water is used.


Waste water from civilian and industrial discharges undergoes two basic treatments: primary and secondary, and in some cases also a tertiary treatment, which involves thorough filtering without aid of chemical agents, after which the water is suitable for a wide range of uses, such as irrigation or technological use. But the story doesn't end there: other technological procedures are now available for further treatment of waste water, affording impeccable quality standards and economic benefits.

Indeed today it is possible for private companies to perform quaternary treatment based on Ultrafiltration or Reverse Osmosis technologies, that assure a product specifically suited to certain industrial uses at low cost (vegetables and fruits washing, slaughterhouses, oil mills, dairy factories, etc.), without having to sacrifice any of the advantages afforded by potable water.