Monday, 25 June 2012

Physical Contamination of Bottled Water

We all know that most foreign bodies get into 19L bottles at the customers’ premises, normally when the bottle is empty, and then the bottle is hijacked for other purposes.

It is very rare that objects enter the bottle in the bottling plant, but it can happen, the most obvious items being human hair and insect fragments. Protective clothing needs to be worn to protect the water from contamination. Over-clothing should be without top pockets and designed to completely cover the upper body. Hair protection needs to be worn so as to completely cover the hair. Disposable hair covering should be changed daily.

Hair covering should be put on before coats and taken off after coats to prevent hair falling on shoulders. An adequate non-glass mirror should be available to enable staff to check that their hair protection covers 100% of their hair.

Electric fly killers should not be positioned close to the filling section to avoid insect fragments being spattered into this area. The design of the fly killer should be such that most of the debris falls into a catchment tray. An alternative is to consider a UV based non-electric killer with a glue board.

Make a study of glass in the bottling plant and assess the risks associated with breakage. Remove all unprotected glass and replace with a suitable glass alternative or protect with shatterproof film. Ensure that a glass breakage  procedure is in place and that it will be immediately implemented if a breakage occurs.

Light fittings should all  have unbreakable diffusers or covers (not glass), and where fluorescent tubes are fitted the diffusers should have covered ends. Shatter-proof fluorescent tubes are available as an alternative to using covers. Where possible, light fittings should be flush with the ceilings.

Watch out for fragments of bottle caps. The bottle washer is usually littered with cap fragments at the end of the shift. The likelihood of fragments getting into the filler section is remote, but ensure that cap debris are cleared out of the machine regularly.

A more risky point is during capping. Make sure that the capper is well adjusted and that the caps are completely compatible with the neck dimensions. If some caps are incompletely seated, dissuade operators from bashing them with a hammer, this may cause some plastic bits to fly off into the water.

As mentioned at the beginning, the likelihood of foreign bodies getting into the water is remote, and with good housekeeping practices probably it will never happen. However, it is important to be aware of all the hazards that may lead to this unlikely event.

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