The reasons for this requirement of raw water treatment in the soft drinks industry brings to mind some of the occasions when I was questioned by family or friends on my work as a food technologist in the soft drinks industry. When on the subject of water treatment, I have sometimes been bluntly asked why raw water has to be specially treated when it has already been through such a process by the municipality's water department. Some of these people, that is, the more logical thinking ones, basically follow a train of thought such as which follows:
If a soft drinks company has to treat raw (municipality) water because some "undesirable" elements, such as those explained above, may be present in the raw water, does this not mean that those who work at the company and their family members are drinking at home water that could be "dangerous to their health?"
It is all very well to treat the raw water to eliminate things that could affect the taste and appearance of a soft drink. But with regard to the bugs, hazardous pesticides, and other no-no materials, does this mean they and their kids are at risk when drinking water from the tap at home?
Does this mean that our local water authorities are failing to provide hazard-free water to the community?
When you come to think of it, as I sometimes have, the concern expressed by these people is to a certain extent quite justified. I cannot exactly remember how I answered these questions, but it was probably something along these lines:
No, the water authorities are not failing in their duties. In fact, all things considered, they are doing an excellent job. It is just that sometimes, as with any process, things can go wrong. If and when such happens, members of the public can be assured that they would be timely notified by means of the local media and warned of any serious threat to health.
Yes, there is always an element of risk, as slight as it may be, that there could be, at times, something wrong with the water at home. It is a risk that we all have to take, along with all the many other risks involved in modern daily life — like getting stuck in a lift during a power failure.
But, a soft drinks company does not need to take this risk. It wishes to avoid any and every health hazard to the public it can adequately address. This is not only in the interest of public safety but also to avoid costly product recall and damage to the company's image.
Yes, a low count of bugs in water is expected and allowable — our bodies can handle this. After all, we are exposed daily to far more serious bug contamination situations in daily life. It is the disease-causing bugs (and those that cause product spoilage) that the soft drinks industry, like all other food industries, is concerned about. So it goes the extra mile by disinfecting regular raw water supplied by the local authorities — just to make sure.
This short digression has been included in the chapter of water treatment just in case readers find themselves in a similar situation and perhaps could use some of my answers.
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