Water is an essential part of food animal processing, and current processing practices use large volumes of water. Due to climate change, the food industry’s access to clean and inexpensive water is increasingly a challenge. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) seeks evaluation by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Food (NACMCF) to facilitate the safe reuse of sources of water in order to reduce water consumption. There should be more collaborations among stakeholders (e.g., industry, academia, government) to collect missing information on water usage and opportunities for reuse. A complete understanding of energy use and plant infrastructure limitations is necessary to effectively understand all opportunities for water conservation and recycling. Characterization of microbial and chemical contaminants in water is a very large topic that requires extensive work. There are quality standards for potable water but not for the recycled water from different processing states, and different water treatment systems. A uniform standard for, and federal regulation of, the quality of reused/recycled water in FSIS-regulated facilities is needed.  Standard water analysis methods are available, well-developed, and reliable. Initial monitoring of alternatively sourced water should be extensive, while ongoing performance monitoring should be in real-time and focus on measuring indicators (refer to Glossary). Water for non-food contact uses will require monitoring of fewer parameters. Some water conservation strategies have been published for fish processing establishments; however, economic and other incentives to incorporate conservation practices or recycling technologies do not exist. Companies should develop emergency programs to manage natural disasters, such as flooding.

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