Carbonated drinks or soft drinks are made up of ingredients like water, carbon dioxide, sugar or artificial sweetener, and flavor. The process of manufacturing carbonated drinks is a systematic procedure involving five major steps. The biggest hurdle that carbonated drinks manufacturers must overcome is that of preventing contamination because of susceptible these are to microbial, yeast or mould contamination. Measures are taken to prevent contamination as the drink is processed.
The Steps in Soft Drink Processing
The major five steps of processing soft drinks are as follows:
Sugar Syrup Clarification
The thick syrup containing a mixture of sugar, essence, flavor, and water is first clarified using devices such as the 1.00μm and 3.00μm cartridge filters. These filters separate any crystals or particles that may be present in the syrup.
Water Microbial Stabilization
The major ingredient in any soft drink is water. In order to prevent contamination, the water must be filtered thoroughly to remove any bacterial or fungal contamination from the water. While the filtration process is very important, the pre-filtration process is just as important. This involves protecting the filters themselves from being contaminated so that it does not contaminate the water it is supposed to be filtering. For the prefiltration process, a typical filter used would be something similar to the Clarigard 0.5μm Cartridge Filters and for the final filtration or sterilization process, a filter such as a 0.45μm cartridge filter.
This is the step where carbon dioxide is added to the drink. This is done under low temperatures and high-pressure condition since carbon dioxide sparingly soluble in water at room temperature and pressure. The carbon dioxide that is added should also be filtered to be free of microbial organisms.
Bottle Blower and Bottle Washer
Air is used in the bottle blower to turn the pre-form bottles into the final forms of the bottles used to package the drinks in. This air should also be free of any contaminants. In the bottle washer, water is used to wash the bottles out before they are filled with the beverages. This water too should be free of any contaminants.
In this process of drink processing, the bottles are filled with the drinks. At this stage, a gas filter is used to be doubly certain that there is no contamination of any sort involved.
Some Products Used in the Process
The process involves a series of steps. At each step, there are different instruments used.
- For microbial enumeration, the use of one or more of the following equipment are recommended:
- A bio-burden testing device that can detect contamination earlier
- A no-touch membrane dispenser
- Filtration samplers to conduct in-line microbial testing
- A disposable filtration unit to analyze microbial content in beverages
- An automated system for the rapid detection of microbial content
- For rinsing water, an on-line filtration system and samplers
- For microbial testing of surface, swabs and samplers
- For air monitoring, an air filtration system.
- During water filtration, a pre- and post-filtration system to remove particles and carbon dioxide and an air and gas filtration system for the air blown in and the carbon dioxide used
- While filling, a pre-filtration system for the protection of the final filter, a water sterilization and filtration unit, an air purifier for gas filtration, and air purification
The entire process of manufacturing carbonated drinks pays a lot of attention to prevent the contamination of the samples. A contaminated batch not only will lack the flavor but is also a huge health hazard that the packaging and manufacturing unit of a soft drinks company will most definitely want to avoid.