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Bottled Water Label
use standard identifiers, prescribed by FDA regulations, to describe their
water, but the meanings may be different than you expect. These terms
refer to both the geological sources of the water and the treatment methods
applied to the water. The terms don’t necessarily describe the geographic
location of the source or determine its quality. For instance, “spring
water” can be collected at the point where water flows naturally
to the earth’s surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground
source. Other terms used on the label about the source, such as “glacier
water” or “mountain water,” are not regulated standards
of identity and may not indicate that the water is necessarily from a
pristine area. Likewise, the term, “purified,” refers to processes
that remove chemicals and pathogens. “Purified water” is not
necessarily free of microbes – though it may be.
Bottlers must list on the label the type of bottled water (such as spring
water, mineral water, or drinking water). If the water comes from a public
water system and has not been treated to meet FDA’s definition of
“purified” or “sterile” water, the label must
state that the source is from a community water system. When you see Carbonated
water, soda water, seltzer water, sparkling water, and tonic water, these
are considered soft drinks and are not regulated as bottled water.
Neither EPA nor FDA certifies bottled water. Consumers can also check
if the bottlers are members of International Bottled Water Association.
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is a trade organization
for water bottlers. IBWA members must meet the organization’s “model
code” and are subject to annual inspections by an independent third
party. Bottlers belonging to IBWA frequently indicate membership on their
labels. Another organization is NSF International. Bottled water certified
by NSF undergoes additional testing by unannounced annual plant inspections.
NSF certifications mean that the bottler complies with all applicable
FDA requirements, including good manufacturing practices.
Bottlers must include the name of the product and type of water; the name
and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; and the net content
on their labels. The best way to know if the water you are drinking is
safe and free from the contaminant(s) you are concerned about is to contact
the bottler and ask for the latest testing results and whether the water
has been treated to remove the contaminant.
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