Water is just a part of our lives and unless we are put into a situation of not having it, we really don’t think about just how important it actually is. Recently in South East Queensland there was a shutdown of the water treatment plants supplying Brisbane and surrounding areas. With floods everywhere it seemed almost ridiculous that a large part of the population of this state had to go into water saving and reduction.
It highlighted how important water is to all of us and just how much we all take it for granted.
In a food business we use water for three basic functions; ingredient, cleaning and transport. It is also used for staff drinking and in garden maintenance.
As an ingredient, it affects texture, mouthfeel, taste, appearance, shelf life and colour, in other words it makes or breaks a product. It is perhaps the most important of ingredients, but is rarely treated with that level of respect. It is simply just added from the tap, and we expect that it will be there at all times.
The water we use in the food business must meet specific requirements, as per the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. This is to ensure that it adds nothing to the product other than itself and therefore helps maintain food safety. As food businesses we pay for every drop of water we use and then for the treatment of whatever water we put down the drain.
If businesses sat down and truly worked out the cost of each litre of water used, they would probably find that it is one of the most expensive ingredients. Maybe then it would be treated with the respect that it deserves. This is even more important when we stop and think that the amount of water in the world does not increase, what we have is all there has ever been and will always be.
The term “water added” on a food label should mean a whole lot more to a food business than just those two words.