Cryptosporidium and Giardia contamination of drinking water

Food manufacturers, retailers, and other commercial establishments that serve food or water to the public are reminded of their obligations to produce safe food during and following boil water alerts issued due to Cryptosporidium or Giardia contamination of drinking water.

Water that is not further treated (either through boiling or filtering) should not be used:

  • In food or drinks, including soft drinks produced from post mix dispensers connected to the water supply
  • To prepare ice particularly if the ice is to be sold, used in drinks, used as an ingredient in foods, or used in contact with foods, especially foods such as cooked prawns, which may be eaten without further cooking.
  • For washing foods that will be eaten without further cooking, such as salad vegetables or opened oysters
  • Used for rinsing food equipment, such as eating and drinking utensils, or beer lines. Beer lines should be flushed through with beer after cleaning and before use.

Espresso coffee machines heat water to a temperature hot enough to deliver a safe product.

Additional considerations during boil water alerts issued due to Cryptosporidium and Giardia contamination

It is recognised that some fast food chains may filter the water supply used in their post mix dispensers. It is important to note that only filters certified to remove Cryptosporidium, reverse osmosis filters, or "absolute one micron" filters are effective to remove Cryptosporidium. Bottled soft drinks are not affected as manufacturers routinely treat their water supplies before use.

For the food industry, the NSW Health Department has compiled a list of references, which may assist in determining if your own food processes efficiently eliminate Cryptosporidium and Giardia. A list of references is available from the Health Department by Faxback on 1800 061 138.

Food Science Australia has also compiled a fact sheet for the food industry, which is available through the CSIRO.

'Boil Water Alert' precautions for

Schools and child care centres

Topping up swimming pools and spas

Using water header tanks

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Page Updated: Tuesday 31 March 2009