Soft drink processing 101

The term soft drinks covers a wide range of beverages, usually carbonated, taking in things like colas and lemonades but also flavoured waters and sports drinks. Its important that when theyre manufactured steps are taken to prevent soft drinks from becoming contaminated and to ensure that they reach the customer in peak condition.

The high sugar content makes this type of drink prone to mould or yeast, which means that their microbiology needs to be carefully managed during the production process. This applies whether making bottled, canned or draught soft drinks.

Production process

Soft drinks are popular, selling millions of litres each year, so the process used to make them is big business. The biggest portion of soft drinks is water and this is mixed with a syrup to form the finished drink.

The syrup is a mixture of essences, flavours and sugar, which goes through a clarification process to remove any crystals and other particles. This is added to the water, which itself will have gone through a comprehensive filtration process to remove microorganisms, yeast and mould to ensure its free of contaminants.

The next step is to carbonate the drink. This involves adding carbon dioxide gas to give it its fizz. Again the CO2 needs to be checked to ensure its free from contaminants. Obviously, non-carbonated drinks dont receive this step. Also, draught soft drinks from Empireuk and similar are carbonated and have water added as theyre dispensed, not in the factory.

Packaging

Once the drink is made, it needs to be packed for shipping. Again this process needs to ensure cleanliness at each stage. Draught drinks are usually supplied as syrup to which water and gas are added in the dispensing process. Theyre packed in bags within a box to protect them in transit.

Bottled and canned drinks are mixed in the factory, then undergo a filling process. Modern plastic bottles are supplied in a compressed form that is blown into shape before filling. Once again, attention to cleanliness is needed at all stages of the process in order to ensure the quality and purity of the finished product. This plus a reliable, stable and properly sealed container is essential to ensure that the final consumer receives the drink in the best possible condition.

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