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Water Testing Standards in CA

SQFWater Testing Standards

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 05:33 PM



I am getting ready for my SQF audit for food processing and I need to get my water tested inside the facility. In the SQF code, it states that there needs to be a microbiological analysis. I am just confused on what standards or regulation it needs to be like if I need to get a full panel EPA test on the water. The water is used just for cleaning and not added as an ingredient. 


Can some clarify exactly what test I need to do.


Thank you!


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Posted 01 March 2017 - 07:48 PM

Is this well water or municipal? If it's well water you have to a full panel test (we test monthly) , if it's municipal you can obtain the results directly from the city.


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Posted 01 March 2017 - 07:49 PM

In Los Angeles for BRC, I've used the annual water quality reports. This has satisfied my auditor. 




Majority of the water quality reports have the microbiological testings that you will require since you are just using it for cleaning. 


Back up support could be your chemicals you are using for cleaning, which you will need specifications and any lab test results of your chemical use.


Hopefully that helps.  


good luck.



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Posted 02 March 2017 - 01:27 AM

Get an independent test done on a routine basis, like twice a year. Look for a local lab and tell them you need standard water testing for water. Ensure that the lab is accrediated. Do not rely on water testing provided by the local source ad these tests are normally a look back and can sonetimes be outdated by a whole year.

Depending on source and usage some of our client test twice a year while others such as ice and beverage companies test upwards of daily.

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 12:05 PM

Hi Ruthie22,


The current SQF requirements and guidance are:


11.5.2 Monitoring and Water Microbiology and Quality Water used for
....iii. cleaning food contact surfaces; .....
shall comply with local, national or internationally recognized potable water microbiological and quality standards as required.

11.5.2   Implementation Guidance
What does it mean?
Any water that is used in the process that could come in contact with the product must be verified to be in compliance with local and national standards. 
In the US and Australia for example, the potability standard for drinking water is <1 coliform / 100 mL water and membrane filtration is the preferred method.
However, standards also apply for Salmonella spp, Shigella spp, enterovirulent E.coli, Vibrio cholera, Yersinia enterocolitica, Campylobacter jejuni, and protozoa. 

11.5.6 Analysis Microbiological analysis of the water and ice supply shall be conducted to verify the cleanliness of the supply, the monitoring activities and the effectiveness of the treatment measures implemented. Water and ice shall be analyzed using reference standards and methods.
11.5.6   Implementation Guidance
What does it mean?
Even though the water supply may come from the town or regional water supply in which the water is treated, safety tested and maintained by the local authority, it is required that food processers implement their own testing to ensure the safety of the potable water used within the facility.
What do I have to do?
The monitoring may involve one or a number of the following: 
• Regular testing of water (e.g., pH, turbidity); 
• Checking filtration apparatus and changing it as required (refer to supplier specifications); 
• Regular cleaning of water holding tanks and reservoirs; 
• Regular monitoring of sanitizer levels in water (levels normally tested at various sites in the food handling and processing areas).
Water should be tested at least every 12 months for potability and any additional quality or safety attribute.  When utilizing an outside laboratory, seeking a laboratory that is properly accredited to complete the desired analysis is required.
So your water should be tested as a minimum annually for the organisms specified. These checks are for your water supply, note that it is also good practice to test water as close to the point of use as possible, this is to check the water isn't being contaminated in your distribution system.
Kind regards,


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Posted 09 March 2017 - 05:54 PM

Use the water quality report from the water supply company.


Conduct at least annual testing for water potability.  Be specific with the lab doing this and explain to them you need "water potability" test.  Not all labs are accredited for water potability.


You may need to conduct a risk assessment for anything not covered by the water potability, however I've never had an SQF auditor ask for this.  They usually take the water quality report from the water company and our third-party lab testing results without issue.


If you use a well water source, then there is much further involvement/testing required.

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