What is the Most Important Environmental Concern Within the Food Industry?

June 25, 2008

Since all food sectors use it, water usage and wastewater discharge would be very high on anyone’s list of critical environmental issues. Many food processing facilities use more than 1 million gallons of water per day. Since most facilities are usually located in smaller communities, this usage can often place a major strain on local utilities.

Food processing wastewater can be characterized as organic and fundamentally nontoxic; however, the biological oxygen demand (BOD) value of food wastewater is relatively high compared to other industries. This is due to the fact food processing wastewater contains elevated amount of dissolved and/or suspended solids. As a result most public treatment plants will impose elevated fees or surcharges to handle this stream. With the major increase in these fees over the past decade, many food facilities are taking steps to reduce their waste streams before they discharge them into the public system. Commonly used methods include membrane filtration and centrifugal and gravity separation processes.

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