Water; Funny taste is not so funny.


Does your canned water really tasted like water ? 

A solution for flavour taint and CO2 pick-up

Taints are off flavours or odours arising from changes within the water as extracted from source. These off flavours or odours are caused by reactions within the water due to the chemistry of the water or the interaction of the water with packaging, or post production storage conditions.

Tastes and odours are major factors influencing the consumers’ perception of drinking water quality. Consumers generally believe that if their drinking water tastes or smells then they question quality or safety. This is because unfamiliar or unpleasant tastes or odours and appearance represent the only tangible and instant means for consumers to gauge the quality of drinking water.

Consumer complaints relating to off-tastes in drinking water are a significant concern for water supply companies, particularly in terms of their public image. Although packaged drinking water quality in the U.K. as measured against health based parameters is very high, the recognition of objectionable odours or flavours in drinking waters undermines consumer confidence and raises often unfounded concerns about the safety of water supplies.

The detection of off-taste and odour in drinking water is one of the principal causes of complaints from consumers to water companies. Some chemical contaminants and flavours have very low taste and odour thresholds and can be detected by consumers at very low concentrations (ng to μg l-1 levels; Young et. al. 1996).

However, although the actual health risks associated with many taste and odour incidents may be insignificant, the recognition of an off-taste or odour can simply be perceived by consumers as representing some problem (McGuire 1995). Because the taste, odour and appearance of drinking water is really the only tangible means for consumers to judge water quality it is reasonable to expect that unfamiliar or unpleasant taste or odours create a perception of health risk.

There are various factors which may contribute to influence consumers’ perception of risk regarding their packaged drinking water:

• Increasing consumer demands for ‘quality’ and ‘choice’ when selecting goods, services, food and drink

• Consumers’ willingness to pay for ‘quality’ and ‘safe’ products

• Consumers’ increased awareness of environmental issues, particularly the use of single use plastic.

• Frequency of/proximity to/or familiarity with taste and odour problems

• Advent of more stringent drinking water standards

• Stricter enforcement of the Water Regulations by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI)

Contaminant – this is a substance which is introduced to the product during production or storage (pre or post fill) and which may cause an off odour or flavour in product. Contaminants are materials that have entered the water during extraction, packaging or post production (eg storage next to strong odour products)

Contaminants enter the water at any point of production – they are an additional material to the natural composition of the water. Even the most effective CIP’s are not not sufficient to remove taint. Sources include :

Storage vessels particularly where vessels have been used to store non pure / flavoured beverages.

Hoses / pipework which is non dedicated to pure water

Filters infected with flavoured products

Carbonation devices which are used for other beverages

Packaging lines used to package other products

the wastewater odour wheel for evaluating wastewater treatment odours (Burlingame et al., 2004)

Case Study

At BPS we have dedicated can-packaging equipment to packaging pure water only in order to remove risks of flavour taint and CO2 pick up.

In what is believed to be the first CO-packaging facility dedicated to pure water, this dedicated facility packs pure water without the need to use vessels, pipe work and fillers which are used to pack other beverages / flavoured waters. Water is abstracted on site and packed directly into can packaging.

Not only does this completely remove the risk of flavour pick up or additional carbon dioxide additions, it’s UV and 0.2 micron filtration packaging process mean perfect microbiological results which further reduce the risk of tainting.

Water is packaged directly from source without the requirement for holding or transporting vessels – both of which have been demonstrated to be major sources of flavour pick-up and microbiological infection.

The aluminium can provides a perfect seal, also prevents all light ingress.

Increasingly seen as a major alternative to plastic packaging, the aluminium cans suitability to pure water packaging is set to increase significantly.


Processes used in packaging pure water play a significant role in the perceived quality of packed water. The delicate nature of pure water is extremely susceptible to flavour taint . Whilst stringent cleaning regimens, processes, equipment manufacturing can reduce these risks, the only manner in which to remove them completely is though a completely dedicated facility.


Bruchet A. (1999). Solved and unsolved cases of taste and odour episodes in the files of inspector Cluzeau. Wat. Sci. Tech. Vol. 40, No.6, 15-21.

Colbourne J.S. (1985). Materials usage and their effects on the microbiological quality of water supplies. Journal of Applied Bacteriology Symposium Supplement 1985, 47S-59S.

Jardine C.G. , Gibson N. and Hrudey S.E. (1999). Detection of odour and health risk perception of drinking water. Wat. Sci. Tech. Vo. 40, No.6, 91-98.

McGuire M.J. (1995). Off-flavour as the consumer’s measure of drinking water safety. Wat. Sci. Tech. 31, 11, 1-8.

Suffet I.H., Khiari D. and Bruchet A. (1999). The drinking water taste and odour wheel for the millennium: beyond geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol. Wat. Sci. Tech. Vol. 40, No. 6, 1-13.

Young W.F., Horth H., Crane R., Ogden T. and Arnott M. (1996). Taste and odour threshold concentrations of potential potable water contaminants. Wat. Res. 30, No.2, 331-340.0

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *