Paul Isherwood, head of technical and quality at SHS Drinks Division, said the development of new categories has changed the industry for the better but is having an impact on food safety programs.
“Consumers are demanding more, wanting more, which is great for the drinks industry but maybe it’s just straying into areas that we haven’t considered as much from the food safety, and quality and manufacturing side of things,” he added at the Global Food Safety Summit in Madrid.
“For example some of these beverages that may be crossing over boundaries now and combining different technologies, mixing perhaps dairy products with juice products or carbonated products, would traditionally have always been done in separate factories with separate qualified people and separate food safety systems.
“Some of the risks involved around combining those sorts of products from the food safety angle you’ve got to consider otherwise you can find yourself with a serious problem on your hands.”
The presentation highlighted a green coffee energy drink with 25% juice, an iced espresso latte with orange juice and mocha café latte drink with coconut water.
New critical control points?
This blurring the boundaries means new critical control points (CCPs), said Isherwood.
CCPs in beverages could include ingredient handling, water filtration, product mixing, product filtration, container rinsing and sealing, product filling and pasteurisation.
“It might be that some factories would have one production line that they are trying to put different types of products down,” he said.
“So where as you might do a classic line study and do your critical control points around that particular production line you would have to revisit your food safety plans totally if you were going to put a different type of product down there which would demand different processing, which would have different microbiological requirements, which might mean different cleaning requirements on that line.”
Isherwood said this was not a problem if it is done properly.
“But some people may well make the wrong assumption’s that you can actually produce different sorts of products on a line without considering all these points,” he said.
“It is the people as well, the mentality of if you are used to working perhaps in a low risk area and the area you are defining now on the same line could become a high risk area because of the different products you are putting down.
“It means increased food safety training for those individuals to get them up to the next level to consider aspects they may not have considered before.”
Functional beverage growth
Nutraceuticals or functional beverages are examples of combining some aspects of traditional nutrition products with some aspects of pharmaceuticals, said Isherwood.
“It’s the regulators who might have not caught up yet, to actually define well is it a food or is it a pharmaceutical. I think it’s almost playing catch-up with some companies leading the way putting great products out there in that kind of nutraceutical area,” he said.
“I think there is going to be more of them it’s giving people more choice and if it can help people relieve some of the symptoms or help them in particular aspects then it is a great area of innovation.”
Isherwood also identified the issue of unintended consequences from adjustment of pH/acidity to impact on taste, multiple ingredients meaning increased labelling/warnings, heat treatment for possible colour and flavour changes and reduction in shelf life against consumer acceptance.