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Ultraviolet Technology for the Food & Beverage Industry

Waterborne microorganisms are responsible for adverse effects on the flavor, color, odor, and shelf life of soft drinks, bottled water, and food products. It is therefore the fundamental objective of food and beverage manufacturers to eliminate microorganisms from process water, product water, and sugar solutions to overcome this problem.

A wide range of ultraviolet disinfection units have been specifically designed and developed for these purposes. This allows manufacturers to gain complete control over these potential contaminants, vastly reducing the risk of costly production down time, product recall or even fatality.

Unit - Beverage Bottler Courtesy of ETS UV by NB (3)

UV Applications for the Food & Beverage Industry

Disinfection – This is the most common application of UV light in water treatment.  A properly sized UV system is designed to meet a minimum of 3 Log reduction, a minimum of 30,000 micro-watt seconds (or 30mj/cm2) at one year, the end-of-lamp life (EOL).  If the UV is going in an application where it is providing drinking water to the public, it is likely to be specified as NSF 55, which means 40 mJ/ cm² dose and monitoring equipment that may not be normally ordered.  Some beverage producers require a dose of 60mJ/cm2 or higher dependent on the specifications of the beverage producer.

Some typical locations of installation would be: points-of-fill, points-of-rinse, brine solutions, post-carbon filter, pre-membrane filtration or RO (reverse osmosis), post-water and pre-syrup storage tanks.  A UV system can significantly reduce the microbial counts by destroying at least 99.9% of the bacteria present in the influent stream, when installed at the appropriate locations in the treatment process loop such as downstream of the carbon bed and/or directly upstream of the membrane filtration or RO.

TOC Reduction – In ultrapure water systems, UV treatment is used for the effective reduction of organics, commonly referred to as TOC.  Reduction of TOC is accomplished by incorporating a 185nm UV system appropriately designed and sized as well as strategically placed.

Ozone Destruction – Ozone is commonly used in the pretreatment area of a water system as well as for sanitizing process and recalculating systems.  Prior to the point-of-use, the residual ozone needs to be destroyed to ensure the product is not contaminated.  Because of non-chemical and fast mechanism, UV technology is the preferred method for this application.  After taking into the appropriate variables, a properly sized UV unit can be guaranteed to destroy the ozone to non-detectable limits, insuring the integrity of the process and the product.

Chlorine/Chloramines Destruction – While the addition of chlorine and chloramines to city water may control bacteria levels, they have undesirable effects on the degradation of membrane filtration or RO.  Popular methods of removal, such as carbon beds or chemical injection, have proven to be problematic.  Sodium metabisulfite involves removing one chemical with another and creates food for organisms, while carbon beds can be inefficient, vulnerable to channeling and provide breeding grounds for micro-organisms.

UV Uses

Bottled Water – Even high quality well waters and spring waters can contain natural flora and fauna.  The only appropriate method of disinfection is by UV treatment.  UV will not affect the natural taste or mineral balance of these distinctive brands while vastly enhancing shelf life.

Make Up Water – Effectively applied as a final treatment at point of use, installation can be on a recirculation loop or at strategic points feeding mixing vessels.  UV systems can be fully automatic, which is particularly relevant when the water use is batch or intermittent.

Process Water – Equipment such as sprayers and heat exchangers, which rely on recirculating water, will vastly benefit from water supplies purified by ultraviolet treatment.  Final rinse water for ready to eat products are also extensively disinfected using UV technology.

Storage Tanks – During emptying and venting of sterile holding tanks, airborne bacteria can enter the vessel.  UV units designed to fit into the head space are ideal in reducing this potential means of infection, reducing the risk of costly production down time.  In addition to sterilizing the head space, the water in the storage tank can also be sterilized using UV.



For more information regarding Ultraviolet uses in the food and beverage industry, call 1-866-894-0044 or email


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