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Though various parameters decide the quality of water and its potable quality, the main causes of water contamination are improper washing and sanitising of jars.

Most of us believe that use of conventional sanitizers is adequate to take care of the contamination in jars. But it is proven that any sanitising activity is effective only after thorough cleaning (80% of sanitation is achieved by thorough cleaning and balance by using a suitable sanitizer, thus making it 100% clean & hygienic). Hence, both cleaning and sanitising are highly critical for bulk jars, as they are reused, misused and abused in the market place.

Cleaning & Disinfecting

The water bottling process has to be carried out in a clean and controlled environment so that microorganisms are not allowed to develop and contaminate processing equipment and water/beverage. Cleaning involves the removal of soil, disinfection and treatment of a clean surface to kill microorganisms (or at least the reduction to an acceptable level). It should be noted that bioflim should be considered a soil and removed before disinfection.

The energy required to achieve a clean surface by removing soil could be mechanical, thermal or chemical in nature and is usually a combination of all the three. The fourth key parameter essential to the cleaning process is time. When one of these factors is modified another must be changed to produce the same result.

As far as jar washing is concerned, all the above can be achieved by using the right jar washing machine and the right detergent.

The cleaning and disinfection process usually involves a number of different steps:

  1. Preparation (e.g. isolate equipment before CIP).
  2. Pre-rinse (rinse away loose and water soluble soils).
  3. Detergent wash (wetting of the soil and substrate, displacement or removal of soil from the surface, dispersion of the soil into solution, suspension of soil in solution, preventing soil from re-depositing onto surfaces).
  4. Intermediate Rinse (rinse away soil and detergent residues).
  5. Disinfecting (chemical or thermal).
  6. Final rinse (potable water).
  7. Validation (e.g. ATP measurement) – Adenosine triphosphate – a method to estimate organic content on a surface.

The number of steps may change depending on specific requirements. In certain cases, it may be appropriate to use a detergent disinfectant, combining the cleaning and disinfecting stages.

Detergents are typically formulated using a number of components, the most suitable composition being dependant on the application to give the desired properties of wetting, soil removal, foaming or non-foaming, rinsing, water hardness control and surface/equipment compatibility. The most commonly used constituents fall into one of the following groups: alkalis, acids, sequestrants, polyphosphates, chlorine and surfactants.

Current Limitations

Since the industry is moving completely towards PET/ polycorbonate jars, the major issues would be:

  • Manual cleaning due to their narrow mouth unlike HDPE jars with wide mouth facilitating easy manual cleaning.
  • They are temperature sensitive, especially PET. Temperatures beyond 45oC not usually recommended for PET, as it would loose shape. Check with the jar supplier for temperature tolerance.
  • Rinsing issues/foam residues are quite common when normal soap oil or a foaming detergent is used.
  • High water usage to remove residues/rinse.

Detergent Selection

To overcome all the above issues, one may select a product:-

  • Which is detergent-cum-sanitizer (combined in one formulation)
  • Which is compatible with PET / Polycarbonate
  • Which should also work at ambient temperature
  • Which does not create foam
  • Which is easily rinsable, and cost effective
V.G.S. Babu, Regional Sales Manager,
JohnsonDiversey India Pvt. Ltd

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