Food & Flavour

A closer look at food and beverage industry certifications

By Brad Klepec, Market Development Leader at U.S. Water

Brad Klepec, Market Development Leader at U.S. Water, looks at the regulations guiding the food and beverage industry’s pr

Brad Klepec, Market Development Leader at U.S. Water, looks at the regulations guiding the food and beverage industry’s products and services.
For over a century, compliance with the rules and regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have  been a driving force in the food and beverage processing industry.  More recently, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, has intended to ensure the US food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators.  Rather than responding to contamination, the goal is now to prevent it. These regulations guide the food and beverage industry’s products and services for which, as they are intended for human consumption, safety is always of prime concern.

What’s in a label?
In recent years, terms such as Certified Organic, Gluten-Free, Kosher, Halal and Non-GMO Project have been sported on labels throughout local supermarkets and have changed consumer buying habits.  But just how important are these certifications to  US food and beverage industry customers?  In fact, they are all big business.

  • According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), more than 82% of US households buy organic products, and in 2017 Americans spent nearly $50 billion on organic products alone.
  • The Kosher Trust says there are more than 12 million kosher consumers in the USA, and 21% of Americans regularly or occasionally purchase kosher products.
  • The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of American reported that halal sales hit $20 billion in 2016.
  • The market for gluten-free foods is increasing, and is expected to reach around $8 billion by 2020.
Products that are labeled as Certified Organic cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals or bio-engineering methods, and they cannot contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The National Organic Program and USDA-accredited certifying agencies oversee organic claims by inspecting food and beverage processing facilities to ensure they meet USDA organic standards.

Similar product seals and certifications help food processors inform the public about allergen considerations (Gluten-Free), ingredient content (Non-GMO Project), religious dietary laws (Kosher and Halal) and other information. It is important that food and beverage facilities understand these requirements, and that they implement a compliant water treatment and sanitation program.

Compliant water treatment and sanitation
The food and beverages processing industry requires a huge amount of water. Food industry standards specify that, spent process water intended for reuse (even for cleaning purposes) must be at least of drinking quality. Another challenge is the amount of wastewater continuously produced in the food plants, which must be dealt with according to regulations.

U.S. Water’s integrated approach combines engineering, equipment, chemicals and services, to help customers meet their regulatory needs.  For example, the FDA approves chemical ingredients (not products) for use in food processing plants.  Therefore, U.S. Water has certified numerous chemical products that are deemed safe and suitable for the proposed end use and will provide, upon request, a Letter of Assurance (LOA) to ensure applicable regulatory compliance. Over the past year, U.S. Water has worked with a chemical supplier to bring to the marketplace water treatment defoamers that can be used as processing aids for food that is Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project and Kosher. 

These certifications are extremely important to the food and beverage industry, which must provide products and programmes that meet regulatory compliance and quality assurance specifications, while increasing their system efficiency and minimizing operational costs.

Written by Brad Klepec, Market Development Leader at U.S. Water, 12270 43rd Street NE, St Michael, MN 55376, USA
Tel: +4 866 663 7633