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BOTTLED WATER - KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING


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Bottled Water Label

Bottlers 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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Related Articles:

The Bottled Water Purification Process
One Third of Bottled Water Contain Contaminants
Common Bottled Water Treatment

 

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