Drinking Water Analysis

Drinking Water Analysis

The investigation of drinking water, utility water and waste water

Drinking water quality is described precisely in the Swiss Federal legislation. The foodstuff legislature (Swiss Book of Foodstuffs, Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Consumer Products, Ordinance on Foreign Substances and Ingredients in Food Products, Food Hygiene Regulation, Ordinance on Drinking, Spring and Mineral Water) give the binding quality requirements.

Consequently, drinking water must be fit for human consumption in microbiological, chemical and physical terms. It must satisfy the defined hygienic and microbiological requirements and conform with the tolerance and limit values given in the Swiss Ordinance on Foreign Substances and Ingredients in Food Products. Additionally, it must be impeccable in relation to the flavour, aroma and appearance.

Do you require support in testing the quality of your drinking water? As an accredited Swiss contract laboratory, we will test all of the common and essential parameters in accordance with the legislature. Quick, competent and reliable.

Would you like to know which points you should observe when contracting out your analyses? We can help you to perform sampling correctly or in the selection of the test parameters that are essential for you.
Then please ask us. 

 

We will be happy to advise you.

Read on here for more information or contact us.


Legal guidelines

Drinking water examination in the laboratory
Drinking water examination in the laboratory

The microbiological, physical and toxicological criteria relating to conformity with the Law and with standards are clearly defined and compliance is checked by official controls. Additionally, in the Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) on Drinking, Spring and Mineral Water, investigation of the circa 3000 public drinking water supplies is mandatory at least once a year (regional information can be found at www.wasserqualitaet.ch).

Owners of a private spring water source must monitor the source at regular intervals: a minimum of four times a year, at the place of outpouring, in terms of temperature, characteristic ingredients and microbiological purity .

The requirements of foodstuff companies for water quality

Drinking water has a central importance in the framework of operational hygiene. In the HACCP concept (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), it is taken account of within the hazard analysis in the classification of environmental factors. Additionally, as a raw material, drinking water should be considered as a foodstuff ingredient and an aspect of “product quality”. As a foodstuff, drinking water must fulfil high quality requirements as it can have a large influence on the hygienic and technological characteristics of the processed product.

It should be observed that the water quality can also vary as a result of the external supply due to major changes in the weather conditions (dryness, rainy periods and snow melt). In Switzerland, more than 80 percent of drinking water comes from spring water and ground water.

The remainder is gained from treated lake water that is available mainly in the heavily populated areas in the Swiss Mittelland and the lake regions in the vicinity of the Alps. Seasonal variation in relation to the nitrate content can also be observed in ground water.

The influence of water pipeline systems on the quality of water

The quality of the water has a direct influence on the quality of a product: The washing procedure in the processing of foodstuffs
The quality of the water has a direct influence on the quality of a product: The washing procedure in the processing of foodstuffs

The quality of the water within the company’s own water pipeline systems also changes over time. Depending on conditions (temperature, corrosion, calcification, flow profile), considerable bacterial populations can form up to the level of biofilms that are a permanent source of contamination.

Therefore, it is necessary to obtain an overview of the quality of the water at each respective water withdrawal location.

If the drinking water fed in meets the legal requirement criteria, then it can be used for cooling, washing and manufacturing processes as well as for personal hygiene. If it is used as a foodstuff during processing, then the natural ingredients of the water (e.g. minerals) can also have an influence on the end result. A variety of preparation procedures (filtration, decalcification) also change the drinking water with regards to its accompanying substances, which can have an effect on the cooking time, the texture and colour of the other ingredients and the aroma and flavour of the product. An overview of the possible treatment processes and their effect on the quality of the water is given in a leaflet from the Swiss Gas and Water Trade Association (SVGW).

Influence of the water quality on the quality of foodstuffs

In food processing, the quality of the ingredients used is of crucial importance for the end product. It is therefore sensible to define the requirements on the quality of the drinking water that is to be used as an ingredient under technological and economic aspects when the specifications are created, and to define the frequency that it will be monitored. Some examples have been compiled in the table that show which water parameters in the individual sectors could have an influence on the quality of the product.

Drinking water parameters and their effect on the manufacturing process

Sector Parameter Effect
General pH Disturbs enzymatic processes
  Micro-organisms Alters the product characteristics
  Line pressure Contaminates the pipeline system
  Sodium, hydrogen carbonate Vitamin degradation
Manufacture of baked goods Iron, manganese, humic substances Discolouration, fat degradation
The beverage industry Hardness, chloride Flavour
Spirits Hardness Cloudiness
Milk processing Iron Flavour, colour
  Hardness Flavour, flocculation

 

Source: L. A. Hütter, Wasser und Wasseruntersuchungen; 6. Auflage, Verlag Salle und Sauerländer (Water and Water Testing, 6th edition, Publisher Salle und Sauerländer) (mod.)

The importance of water quality for meat processing companies

Sources of water in mountainous areas could under certain circumstances be susceptible to contamination as the cleansing properties of the soil are relatively weak. As a result, animal faecal matter can leach from the thin soil layer of grazing land very quickly and bacteria are filtered out only to an insufficient amount. The indicator bacteria Escherichia coli and enterococci can be detected quickly and provide evidence that other pathogens could also be present.

Also, the cloudiness of the water indicates an insufficient filter effect of the soil and represents favourable conditions for the multiplication of bacteria because of the particles contained (minerals, organic substances, micro-organisms). Without additional filtration some pathogens can be removed only at an insufficient level, even after a disinfection process (UV radiation or chlorination).

The quality of the water is subject to additional severe fluctuations as the amount of water precipitated is different as a result of the weather.

These hygiene shortcomings could have an effect on foodstuff production in alpine companies, if there is no perfectly hygienically clean water available for processing and for cleaning purposes. As a result, contamination of foodstuffs due to objects being cleaned insufficiently is possible (e.g. butter churns). Particular attention should be paid during the production of raw milk products to the perfect quality of the water.

At the same time, hygiene problems for drinking water could also occur for milk production companies in rural valley regions which are not connected to the public water supplies. Here, the cause for the presence of faecal bacteria is primarily the spillage of farmyard manure into the upstream inflow area of the water source.

Water quality for meat processing companies

Meat processing companies must provide evidence that the water used is of drinking water quality
Meat processing companies must provide evidence that the water used is of drinking water quality

Meat processing companies who are permitted to export in the EU must provide proof as part of the approval procedure that the water used in the company is of drinking water quality and complies with the requirements of the “98/83/EC Guideline from 3rd November 1998 on the quality of water for human consumption”.

Sampling should take place in a way which ensures that the samples are representative of the quality of the water consumed over the whole year.

Requirements of private households on water quality

Even when the water quality of the public water supply into private households is without any problems, depending on the condition of the indoor facilities, there could be a deterioration in the quality of the water when the water reaches the tap. If water stands still in pipelines for a long period of time, biofilms form in the pipes and this leads to an increase in the number of bacteria. Depending on the hardness of the water, considerable amounts of elements such as lead or iron could dissolve from old pipes.

Customer-oriented water analysis

We have testing programmes that cover a range of different scales in our range of products for the most frequent questions. They cover the requirements of the Swiss Food Hygiene Regulation (HyV), the Ordinance on Foreign Substances and Ingredients in Food Products and the Swiss Book of Foodstuffs (SLMB).

Designation of the investigation TWSU-1 TWSU-2 TWSU-3 TWSU-4 TWSU-5 TWSU-6 TWSU-7
Aerobic, mesophilic bacteria

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Escherichia coli

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Enterococci

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Ammonium      

X

X

X

X

Nitrite      

X

X

X

X

Nitrate  

X

X

X

X

X

X

Chloride  

X

X

X

X

X

X

Sulphate  

X

X

X

X

X

X

Orthophosphate        

X

X

X

Total hardness    

X

X

X

X

X

Carbonate hardness    

X

X

X

X

X

Specific electric conductivity        

X

X

X

pH value        

X

X

X

Oxidisability (KMnO4)      

X

X

X

X

Dissolved organic carbon (DOC)      

X

X

X

X

Calcium (titrimetric)    

X

 

X

X

X

Magnesium (calculated)    

X

 

X

X

X

Sodium        

X

X

X

Potassium        

X

X

X

Cloudiness        

X

X

X

Iron      

X

 

X

X

Manganese      

X

 

X

X

Oxygen content            

X

 

 

Sampling

If you are able to take the samples yourself, then we would be pleased provide you with the sample containers (sterile disposable bottles) upon request. Please contact our customer service department.


Our services in detail:

Measurement of the pH value of drinking water
Measurement of the pH value of drinking water

contact person

sales for foodstuffs

Jörg Freudenberger State Certified Graduate Food Chemist

Tel. +41 58 434 42 00 Fax +41 58 434 42 01 service@ufag-laboratorien.ch

ordering information

Help for your order

newsletter

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now to the UFAG LABORATORIEN newsletter!

Title*
*Mandatory fields

infrastructure and methods

Instrumental resources