Considering Water Quality for Use in the Food Industry

ILSI Europe Report Series

Food producers and processors require a framework based upon sound science that permits them to assess the potential for optimising water use and to determine the potential impact of using different levels of water quality on their businesses. The third edition of the WHO Guidelines for drinking water quality set microbial and chemical quality targets for potable water (WHO, 2004), and these are updated annually. Water in the food industry is currently often classified as either potable or non potable, with most legislation simply requiring the use of potable water with little consideration of the application. It would seem logical to modify this classification to include a category that considers “suitability for intended use” to allow for the use of water of appropriate quality for a particular application. However, determining suitability for intended use needs to be based on accepted risk assessment criteria for chemical and microbiological hazards, and to be compatible with HACCP principles (Codex Alimentarius Commission, 1997; Van Schothorst, 2004).

This document, which is the result of collaboration of scientific experts from academia, non-governmental organisations and the food industry, is intended as a contribution to the responsible management and use of water as an essential resource.

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