Water Conservation

Recently, it was determined that adding citric acid to control the pH of fruit fluming waters reduced water use without increasing bacteria. A pH of 4 (Figure 8.2.4) will maintain optimum conditions with cut fruit, such as peaches. The system not only reduces the total water volume and therefore the amount of wastewater discharged, but also increases product yield due to decreased solids loss from sugar and acids leaching. Consequently, total organic pollutants in the wastewater are reduced. Flavor and color of the canned fruit are also improved because of better soluble solid retention.

Closed loop systems, such as the hydrostatic cooker-cooler for canned product, are another conservation

FIG. 8.2.4 Effect of pH control on bacterial cell growth.

method. The water is reused continuously, with fresh makeup water added only to offset minor losses from evaporation. Closed loop systems not only conserve water but also reclaim much heat and can result in significant economic savings.

It is not the intent of this section to describe the enormous array of concepts and ramifications used in the food processing industry to reduce water and waste loads while maintaining product quality. Many factors determine the final effectiveness of proper water use. For example, tomatoes spray-washed on a roller belt where they are turned are almost twice as clean as the same tomatoes washed on a belt of wire mesh construction. In another example, warm water is approximately 40% more effective in removing contaminants than the same volume of cold water.

There is a delicate balance between water conservation and sanitation, with no straightforward or simple formula for the least water use. Each process must be evaluated with the equipment used to arrive at a satisfactory procedure for water use, chlorination, and other factors, such as detergents.

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