Water In The Foodservice Industry

Water In The Foodservice Industry

Water purification is a vital necessity in the foodservice industry.

Canadians enjoy one of the highest standards of water quality anywhere in the world. Municipal water supplies around the country are disinfected and strictly monitored to ensure safe public water supplies. While municipal water supplies in Canada are safe to consume, that does not necessarily mean that they are aesthetically or palatably acceptable. In fact, there are variations in the aesthetics of water quality across the country depending on the source of water and plumbing system in service.

Water supplies that are groundwater-based are generally high in calcium and magnesium salts. Water high in calcium and magnesium has a high potential for scale formation. Other supplies may be high in iron and manganese ions, which, despite being safe to consume, may cause black and brown staining in plumbing fixtures and sinks.

Water supplies obtained from surface water sources like rivers may have high amounts of naturally-occurring tannins that are released from decaying leaves and vegetation in surface water. While they have no known health effects, tannins may cause water to have a faint tea-like stain with a musty or earthy taste. Similarly, some surface water bodies produce a naturally-occurring compound known as geosmin which cause an earthy or mud-like taste in water.

All municipal water supplies pumped to the distribution system are injected with a residual disinfectant to prevent microbial re-contamination. Chlorine is the most common residual disinfectant, with a typical average concentration of 1 ppm. Some municipalities use monochloramine as a disinfectant residual, which has a higher residual effect than chlorine. While crucial to maintaining safe drinking water supplies, chlorine and monochloramine leave a taste and odour in water.

For foodservice operators and hospitality vendors, aesthetics and palatability are critical to any food or beverage recipe. Water that is not palatable may cause nuisance background taste that affects service quality.

Consistent water quality is important for the success of fine culinary dishes. The aesthetics of water may vary due to seasonal changes. For instance, geosmin taste and odour episodes typically occur in summer or fall seasons but not in the winter.


Since water is the main ingredient of most beverages and many dishes, variation in water quality leads to variation in the quality of beverages and food, which is unacceptable for foodservice and hospitality vendors.

In addition to affecting palatability of water, untreated water supplies may cause an operational nuisance. For instance, water high in hardness minerals can cause scale deposition in water kettles, steam ovens, espresso machines and coffee makers. Scale layers grow over the heating elements over time, forming a thick insulating layer that reduces heat transfer efficiency, which in turn increases energy costs. High levels of hardness may also increase soap and detergent consumption due to the inability of soap to lather in hard water.

The proper selection, installation and operation of water treatment systems can address nuisance issues in water supplies and produce consistent water quality. There are various treatment systems with different treatment capabilities. The key to effective treatment is knowing the water quality and the desired level of treatment.


Water treatment and purification does not only produce great-tasting water, but can also lead to operational savings and a return on investment by minimizing energy use and reducing equipment downtime. Most important of all, providing clients with consistent high quality beverages and culinary experience is critical to the success of any food service or hospitality establishment.