For the purpose of this discussion, water will be referred to as an ingredient, although across all segments of the beverage arena water might be labeled as a raw material. Yet, in some discourses, water is neither considered an ingredient nor a raw material. Water is water and it is part of a recipe for whatever beverage is being developed or formulated. In fact, sessions with chemists, biologists, food technologists and other related disciplines involved in beverage creation refer to water as an ingredient; therefore, that will be used in forward comments. It is needed and cost money.
In real time, it probably is the main staple of human existence and the content is subjected to many analyses, evaluations and interpretations depending upon intended use and populace. It also is emphasized here because within the beverage industry water is an ingredient in almost every beverage that exists. Additionally, to comment and clarify the complexity and legalities of handling and treating water and finally disposition as wastewater.
Research, observation, involvement and experience have provided sufficient and significant data not only to substantiate but to stress the importance of a liquid known as water. Some of the concepts and ideas bantered around by the consuming public also testify to the importance of water. Many of the concepts are unfounded, but have added to the debates and approaches when referring to water handling and usage. For example, a frequent common statement infers that current packaging of water simply is “tap” water put into containers and sold at retail — this is not true. The label says “spring” water, but is it really spring water? The label says enhanced nutrients, are they real nutrients? There is a long list of myths that are not correct concepts or ideas about water. Any beverage, including water from any source, is produced according to laws with specific rules and regulations governing the content of the water being used.
It is a fact that many sources are used to obtain water for beverages everywhere in the world. Whatever source is used, beverage producers are obliged to ensure that water is processed to meet regulatory standards in effect wherever they are located — in the United States or any developed country.
Because there are so many possible sources for water, it must be recognized that the characteristics for the ingredient of water from natural/man-made lakes, rivers, private wells and other natural reservoirs, highly will be variable in quality and quantity that will require some type of treatment necessary for whatever use is intended.
In addition to these “outside” sources, public water systems, from all indications, are the most common and frequent sources of water used by beverage producers in the United States. This is an important fact and raises questions about compliance standards, set and monitored, then updated and administered by what authority? In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish and publish the regulatory laws for water. Such compliance standards refer specifically to Drinking Water Standards covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act enacted in 1974 and amended in 1986, then reauthorized in 1996. It should be noted that these compliance standards apply only to public water systems; however, the EPA works with municipalities, industries and other businesses involved with any volume of water treated and used from other sources. Since United States initiated the Drinking Water Act, other countries now have or are in the process of creating agencies or ministries to administer water projects.
After water leaves its source, several points of clarification can assist producers and inform the public of what really happens to the water ingredient that goes into the product.
Because most producers use public water systems, the ingredient is presumed to have complied with the Safe Drinking Water Act; however, even though in compliance, the ingredient might not conform to the product recipe for which it is intended. The result, which happens most of the time, producers have proprietary water treatment systems to further treat the ingredient to comply with their “standards” and achieve consistency in the final product. The second treatment cycle used by a majority of beverage producers truly is the bottom line to the consistent quality, taste and color of the product. One final point of clarification, packaged water has gone through at least two to three treatment cycles and therefore is not tap water. BI