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Controlling Bacteria, Including Spoilage Organisms

in Food & Beverage Processing

Removing bacteria from any food or beverage product improves product quality and extends shelf life. What organisms concern producers and consumers may vary with each product, but filters are used to control or remove those organisms.

Read on for a discussion of how filters can help in beverage production, or go to the product selection table at the bottom of this page for bacteria control filter options. Process water system filtration is discussed on a separate page.”


The figure above shows the general location of filters used for different products or even critical ingredients/

Bacteria Control

Controlling the level of organisms in a system is not the same as removing all of them. In fact, sterilizing filtration is defined by a different set of performance measures (see below). Controlling the number of organisms, sometimes called the "bioburden", is done using filters similar to those used for sterilizing filtration, but the performance requirements are not as stringent. That does not mean that bioburden control is a secondary consideration. Reducing the bioburden in a system keeps the system cleaner, making cleaning and disinfection easier and, most important in most systems, protects the expensive sterilizing filters from excessive loading which will shorten their life.

The choice of filter to use for bioburden reduction is based on the type and number of bacteria likely to be found in the system. In general, organisms that may be carried by the raw ingredients (Alicyclobacillus species, Bacillus species, Cryptosporidium, coliforms and others) are the primary targets for removal. However, microorganisms endemic to the location of the facility (molds, airborne bacteria, etc) also need to be considered. Depending on the size of the organisms and the nature of the product, membrane filters with anywhere from 1.2µm to 0.45µm pore size ratings may be used.

The new High Capacity PES Membrane cartridge filters and capsule filters are examples of filters for bioburden control. Visit our Products page for more information.

Sterilizing Filtration

Sterilizing filters are the last process step as a beverage is packaged. This process is critical for the final product quality and shelf life. For beverage production, the filters must remove the microorganisms that might adversely affect shelf life and product safety while preserving the flavor and character of the wine, beer, juice, soft drink or bottled water.

Sterilizing filtration is defined as removing all bacteria in a fluid stream. Filters claiming to be sterilizing must be supplied with proof that they can remove organisms the size of those targeted in the user’s system. The pharmaceutical industry has accepted successful removal of surrogate organisms by specific filter membranes as proof that a filter can remove organisms of similar size. The organisms are defined for each pore size rating. The testing is according to an ASTM standard (ASTM F838-05 rev 2013) that requires COMPLETE removal of all test bacteria when a filter is challenged with at least 107 organisms per cm2 of membrane surface area. This level of challenge is extremely unlikely in actual applications.

Critical Process Filtration provides filters tested using the ASTM standard with 0.10μm filters challenged with Acholeplasma laidlawii; 0.22µm challenged with Brevundimonas diminuta; 0.45µm challenged with Serratia marcescens; 0.65µm with Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Performance Validation

If desired by the end user, Critical Process Filtration will assist in the testing and analysis of all of the filters in the system to validate filter performance and assure the best, most cost effective filter system operation. Critical Process Filtration will provide documentation of that performance for the end user and the appropriate regulatory authorities.

Custom systems are designed for new applications and to solve challenges in existing processes. Critical Process Filtration will work with you to design, build and install a cost-effective system that delivers the results you need. Contact us or visit our custom filtration systems page for more information.

Application Summaries

Critical Process Filtration has created some short explanations of how bacteria control and sterilizing filtration can be used to protect product quality and safety and extend shelf life. Click on one of the links below to download an Application Summary.

Product Table

The table below shows filter technology options for bacteria control and sterilizing filtration from Critical Process Filtration with links to more detailed data on the filters.

Media Code

Filter Media

Filter Grade

Cartridge Datasheet

Capsule Datasheet

Disc Filter Datasheet

Pore Sizes Available (µm)



Asymmetric Polyethersulfone (PES) Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.03. 0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 1.8, 1.0, 1.2

Highly asymmetric, hydrophilic PES membrane in single-layer configurations for high efficiency, high flow rates and low product absorption


Dual-Layered Asymmetric Polyethersulfone (PES) Membrane

Wine & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document


0.03. 0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 1.8, 1.0, 1.2

Dual layered, highly asymmetric, hydrophilic PES membrane for high throughput of wine, beer or other liquids for bioburden reduction with very low flavor element adsorption.


Symmetric Polyethersulfone (PES) Membrane


Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.03. 0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 1.8, 1.0, 1.2

Symmetric, hydrophilic PES membrane for high efficiency filtration of water.


High Capacity Polyethersulfone (PES) Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.2, 0.5 and 1.0 single layer; 0.5/0.2 and 1.0/0.5 dual layer

High capacity membrane with single or dual layer configurations for bacteria and particulate reduction, low product adsorption and protection of final filters


High Capacity Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 1.2

High void volume membrane with high capacity for contaminant removal and holding in beverage production


Nylon 6,6 Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65

Designed for use in high purity water and syrup applications.

To estimate the number of filters you will need for your application, use our unique sizing tools.

Additional filter options are also available for special circumstances. Contact Critical Process Filtration for more information or if you have any questions, wish to discuss a specific application or want to learn more about any of our Products and Services. We look forward to hearing from you!