The water that you use in your food business can have a direct effect on your food safety outcomes. Welcome to Week 17 of the Food Safety HACCP Challenge. This week you are challenged to check that the water that you use in your food business is safe. One of the ways to ensure that the water used is safe or potable is to have it tested. With that in mind, check that your water has been verified in the past 12 months.
In most developed countries, sufficient quantities of potable water are delivered to food businesses. In some countries however, and some regions in developed countries, the potability of municipal water cannot be relied on.
Potable water in your food business
There are many areas where potable water is required to be used within your business. Here are just a few:
- When water is used as a raw material in a recipe or an incoming ingredient
- When water is required to wash or clean any ready-to eat food like lettuce, tomato, other fruits and vegetables. Ready-to-eat foods are foods that will not undergo any further processing including cooking.
- When water is used to clean equipment, utensils, preparation benches, floors etc within you food production area.
- Potable water must be supplied to any wash hand basins.
A word of warning
There are many environmental campaigns that you can implement within your food business to help reduce waste, and help towards the sustainability of our environment. One of these strategies relates to saving water through the use of recycled water, stormwater or greywater. To make this type of water safe it needs to be effectively treated. Under no circumstances should you use untreated water in any of the situations listed in the section above.
If your food business is planning to implement water saving or re-use measures, please ensure that an adequate risk assessment is completed. The quality of non-potable water will vary depending on its source and the level of treatment applied. Non-potable water may contain biological hazards such as bacteria, viruses, or chemical and metal residues. It is therefore important to weigh up the risks and benefits.
What should water be tested for?
There are many things that you can test your water for including microbiological, chemical and physical hazards. Your analytical laboratory can provide guidance and what testing should be performed on your water. As a minimum, you should always request testing for biological hazards such as E.Coli. There should be no E.Coli detected in your sample submitted. Depending on where your food business is located, you may also like to test for Enteroviruses and Faecal indicators. For example Salmonella spp, Shigella spp, enterovirulent Vibrio cholera, Yersinia enterocolitica, Campylobacter jejuni, and protozoa.
Frequency of water testing
The frequency of water testing is dependent on various factors which include what food product you are producing, where your food business is located, the safety and security of the town water supply and the age and size of your building. At a minimum, the cleanliness of the water supply should be verified annually. You may also like to test samples from different parts of your site. Keep in mind that although you are connected to a municipal water supply, water can still become contaminated through the pipe distribution within your food business.
Did you achieve this challenge?
How did you do? Is the water supply you use in your food business safe? Did you find areas where your water quality management plan can be improved? Share your success or thoughts by leaving a comment below.