Sanitary Packaging - Bottled Water Plants

Sanitary Packaging - Bottled Water Plants

Bottled water has not only become a staple in our society, but consumption continues to grow.  Combine this fact with the numerous sources of water available around the world and the fact that water is, literally, a product that no one can live without, and it is no surprise that the bottled water industry is a popular one for new ventures.  However, first time entrepreneurs in the bottled water industry may be surprised to find an unexpected level of regulation in the industry.

While tap water is overseen and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration on the federal level.  The FDA treats bottled water as a food product and thus requires truth in labeling as well as good manufacturing practices that cover sanitary conditions for the processing, bottling, holding and transporting of bottled water.  

This article will take a closer look at the requirements for bottling water, but for an overview of the general powers and requirements of the FDA and possible changes in store, read the recent testimony of Joshua  M. Sharfstein, M.D. before the House of Representatives.  

At the federal level, regulations for bottled water plants can be found in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  While the code offers some guidance on the equipment and processes to be followed when bottling water, it is far from a packaging line layout and operations manual.  In general, the code requires that the process be sanitary, that the equipment be cleaned as often as necessary and that the water remain uncontaminated.  To the owner of a new bottled water plant, this may not hold much meaning.  In practice, there exists packaging equipment and packaging processes that will help achieve these ends. Note, however, that state and local rules may require more specific processes and more stringent guidelines than the Code of Federal Regulations.  Always become familiar with federal, state and local regulations before planning, designing or installing a bottled water plant.

Below are several pieces of packaging equipment popular in the Bottled Water industry.  These packaging machines assist in keeping the packaging process itself sanitary, in turn also protecting the actual product. 

Container Cleaning Equipment

Container cleaning equipment may consist of wet rinsing machine, air rinsing machines or bottle vacuums. These machines use liquid or compressed air to remove dust and debris from bottles before they receive the water from the liquid filler.  Wet rinsers and air rinsing machines will normally invert bottles over a waste basin before the rinse takes place, allowing debris and contaminants to simply fall out of the bottle and into the basin during the rinsing process.  The bottle vacuum uses a rinsing process to loosen debris and then adds the vacuuming of the debris as a final step to clean the containers.  

All of these packaging machines ensure that contaminants left in the bottle during the actual manufacture of the bottle are removed before the water ever reaches the bottle. Container cleaning can also remove contaminants that have settled in the bottles during storage periods or during transportation to or within the bottled water plant.  

Sanitary Conveyor Systems

Sanitary conveyors can be used to move bottles through the rinsing, filling and capping machines on an automatic bottled water line.  These stainless steel belt conveyor systems are designed to minimize product, dust and debris buildup which could foster bacteria growth and contaminate product.  A raised belt design allows for easy conveyor cleaning while still allowing the power conveyor system to operate effectively and efficiently. 

Clean Rooms

In some facilities, the overall environment may warrant a clean room for certain packaging functions.  A clean room may be built around a liquid filler or any other packaging machine to reduce the amount of contaminants in the air around the filling machine.  Clean rooms use a HEPA filter system and a flow-through air system to keep debris and contaminants to an acceptable level within the clean room itself.  
Of course, these are just a few of the packaging machines and concepts that can foster a sanitary bottled water plant.  There are many other steps that can be taken and additional packaging machines that can be used to ensure a sanitary packaging process. If you are interested in learning more about bottled water plants and the packaging equipment necessary for setting up such a plant, contact a Packaging Specialist at Liquid Packaging Solutions toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.