Hygiene is of the utmost importance across all sectors of the food and beverage industry, but beverages can pose a greater risk to public health. There are several reasons why that is true, and we are going to discuss a few of them next.
Beverages are Easily Infected in the Absence of Proper Hygiene Maintenance
Even filtered water can quickly become a haven for germs if the packaging facility is not exceptionally strict with its workplace hygiene. Since most beverages contain at least some amount of water and a majority of them also contain a sugar/sugar alternatives, all it takes is one lapse in methods adopted to ensure hygiene during manufacturing and packaging for the whole batch to become infected.
The germs will survive even if the packaged beverage does not have anything else but water, but they will thrive in beverages with any form of glucose in them. Therefore, everything from soda and beer to even packaged water can harbor germs of a wide variety. Incidents of people getting infected by a packaged beverage are rare, but they do happen.
Beverages are More Susceptible to all Three Types of Contamination
There are primarily three broad categories of contamination that can affect both food and beverages. However, beverages are more susceptible to all of the following three.
- Microbial: Bacteria, virus, parasites, and other contaminants.
- Chemical: Mostly occurs from using a necessary chemical above the FDA-approved safety levels, or from the introduction of a foreign chemical.
- Impurities: Any foreign particle that’s not supposed to be inside the beverage.
It is the nature and consistency of liquids that make beverages even more susceptible to all three contaminations. For example, dangerous chemical levels and foreign impurities are extremely difficult to detect in a beverage. Soluble and microscopic contaminants will also remain completely invisible to the naked eye.
This naturally makes it impossible for anyone in manufacturing, packaging, and quality assurance to detect them without specialized sight glasses that are built to help personnel detect even the slightest inconsistencies in color, texture, or composition in beverages. If a beverage manufacturing and packaging facility fails to provide all necessary equipment for inspection to the personnel, the chances of contamination are increased exponentially. There must also be enforced policies to ensure that all personnel follow the hygiene guidelines and actually use the equipment provided to them.
Beverages are Historically More Responsible for Food Poisoning than Solid Food
Contaminated milk, fruit juice, and water cause more instances of food poisoning in the US and across the planet than solid food each year. While a majority of these incidents do not originate from packaged beverages, some still do, unfortunately. Even when compared to the number of food poisoning incidents that result from solid food contamination, the numbers are always higher on the side of outbreaks caused by contaminated beverages.
Even from a purely commercial perspective, the financial and legal consequences of selling contaminated beverages can be severe. Even a single incident can result in ruinous lawsuits and the suspension of food a license.