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A trip to the local grocery store and a walk down the beverage aisle will reveal dozens of varieties of bottled water. From big, two gallon jugs with spouts to mini bottles that can fit in a lunch box, there are kinds galore. But many may take for granted to process that takes place to get that water from the source, safely into the bottle and into our lives.
Bottled water, often called drinking water, is usually bottled at the source and sealed in safe drinking containers. There are many types of bottled water, held inside many types of unique shaped bottles. It seems the fancier the bottle, the more expensive the water inside. Let's take a look at the kinds of bottled water available:
- Spring water: this comes from an underground formation and must flow naturally to the earth's surface or through a sanitary borehole.
- Purified drinking water: this type of water has been processed to remove chlorine
and a majority of dissolved solids, such as magnesium. The source is not
required to be named unless it is untreated public source of water.
- Naturally sparkling water: this is naturally carbonated from a spring or artesian
- Seltzer Water: the FDA regulates this as a soft drink, which means rules are less strict than those for bottled water.
- Mineral water: typically from a spring, this contains dissolved solids like
calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, silica and bicarbonates.
Bottled water, some say, is not always safer than tap water. Tap water, from city water systems, is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency, while the FDA monitors water bottling activity. In fact, bottled water is one of the products most closely monitored by the FDA. The standards for these two agencies is a little different; for example, the EPS monitors for asbestos while the FDA does not. Water bottlers are also not very strictly required to monitor or disinfect for parasites. This is mainly because the FDA says that at the source the water is bottled from, it is unlikely to harbor parasites or contain these dangerous elements. However, water bottlers are given more strict standards for lead and chlorine.
But, there is more than just the FDA. Bottled water is actually monitored at three levels to ensure high quality and safety standards, the first being federal through the FDA. It is also regulated by the state and also by trade associations such as the International Water Bottlers Association (IBWA). While every water bottler has different techniques, here are some general guidelines of the steps to bottling water:
Bottling water starts at the source. As mentioned above, there are several sources to find water: protected underground springs, wells and municipal supplies. The next step is to filter the water through multi-barrier sources which could included source protections, source monitoring, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light, distillation, micron filtration and ozonation. Water bottlers may use one or more of those processes.
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