Food and beverage companies clean and sanitize processing
equipment (CIP) with chemicals to remove residual soils and to disinfect. These
practices are crucial to maintaining public health and are regulated by several
Wastewater generated from food and beverage processors
differ from other industries because of soluble proteins, sugars and other
contaminants characterized as biological oxygen demand (BODs); chemical oxygen
demand (CODs); fats, oil, grease (FOG) and nutrients containing nitrogen (TKN)
and phosphorus (P).
The sanitizers used in cleaning are designed to kill bacteria. According
to Food Safety Magazine, the sanitization standard for contamination reduction of
food contact surfaces is generally accepted as 99.999% (a 5-log reduction)
achieved in 30 seconds (Official Detergent Sanitizer Test). But, in biological wastewater
treatment, a healthy population of microorganisms is needed to break down organic, carbon-based compounds. So
whether water ends up in a wastewater treatment plant or discharged into a
nearby river, bacteria-killing sanitation chemicals should be neutralized prior
to reaching the wastewater plant.
There are a few products on the market that serve
as highly effective sanitizers, but are able to be neutralized, reducing their
threat to the healthy microbial communities in wastewater treatment.
- Peracetic Acid is a mixture of acetic acid
and hydrogen peroxide. It is a strong oxidizer that can be applied directly to
food without leaving harmful residues but
quickly breaks down into acetic acid, oxygen, and water, making it more
environmentally friendly than other sanitizers. A reducing agent or specific
enzyme can be used to neutralize the oxidation-reduction potential (ORP).
Ammonium Compounds, also known as quats, are used as disinfectants. When
applied to food contact surfaces, quats
dry and provide a residual kill. If concentrations of quats are too high, they can negatively impact the activated
bacteria in a wastewater treatment plant. Fermentation plants prefer not to use
quats because they can compromise lactic
- Chlorine was
once used more widely as a sanitizer but
is not as common as peracetic acid or quats today because of its potential to cause
corrosion. Chlorine dissipates quickly when in contact with organic compounds,
so there typically is little neutralizing needed prior to going into a treatment
Ion is a relatively new technology introduced to control bacteria on cutting boards, belting, and other food surfaces. It is in the process of being
regulated as an antimicrobial spray for
vegetables and meat. We anticipate seeing more of the technology in the next 2
to 5 years.
No two processing plants are exactly the same.
Work with your water treatment partner to develop a chemical program that keeps
food safe and wastewater outputs within regulation. And don’t forget to attend
our free session July 26, 2017, at Watertech U, “Improving Water Management at
Food, Beverage, and Dairy Facilities.”
CLICK HERE to register for Improving Water Management at Food, Beverage and Dairy Facilities – July 26, 2017 8-12pm.