Enhancing water conservation in sustainable food production

25 March 2024

Addressing climate change, especially through water reuse, is becoming increasingly critical in combating water waste throughout the food production supply chain. Regulatory actions and discussions around assessing the use of ‘suitable’ or ‘fit for purpose’ water in different manufacturing scenarios are underway. It’s vital for manufacturers to be aware of the implications.

Enhancing water conservation in sustainable food production | Leatherhead Food Research

France has recently published a Decree on using recycled water in the preparation, processing and storage of food. The decree defines the conditions required and specifies the categories of possible uses as well as the monitoring procedures to put in place to ensure compatibility with food safety requirements. If an FBO decides to use recycled water, it must declare it to the authority; and if any treatment is intended to be carried out on the recycled water, pre-authorisation is required.

This highlights the trend towards water conservation, and adopting a ‘fit for purpose’ approach. It sets a precedent for other countries to address water overuse, leading to water stress within the food and beverage industry, as highlighted by WRAP and WWF. “Without water, there is no food”, making it imperative to identify “water risk hotspots” as the way forward.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) has been diligently addressing this important issue. Soon, manufacturers can adopt a new risk assessment method – ‘fit for purpose’ approach – for safe water use in food contact applications, following CAC guidelines. This approach empowers food businesses to reevaluate water usage in their facilities, understand water systems, and be more resourceful. It involves assessing water hazards, including water source and end-use of the food product, distinguishing from ‘clean’ or ‘potable’ water where not all factors need consideration.

Following this development, we anticipate updates in water reuse guidelines for fishery and dairy products, which are still in the early stages of development and yet to be adopted.

Support with health and safety analysis

Leatherhead can provide support with health and safety analysis by analysing cleaning techniques to ensure that target organisms are effectively removed. Additionally, we can review regulations and guidelines from a microbiology perspective to ensure compliance and optimise product quality using this new fit-for-purpose approach.

If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to us at [email protected]

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