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- Public Notices
Q: Does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor the safety of bottled water?
A: Yes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are both responsible for the safety of drinking water.
The EPA regulates public drinking water (tap water), while the FDA regulates bottled drinking water.
Under FDA labeling rules, bottled water includes products labeled:
+ Bottled water.
+ Drinking water.
+ Artesian water.
+ Mineral water.
+ Sparkling bottled water.
+ Spring water.
+ Purified water (distilled, demineralized, deionized, reverse osmosis water).
Waters with added carbonation, soda water (or club soda), tonic water and seltzer historically are regulated by FDA as soft drinks.
The FDA has set Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) specifically for bottled water. They require bottled water producers to:
+ Process, bottle, hold, and transport bottled water under sanitary conditions.
+ Protect water sources from bacteria, chemicals, and other contaminants.
+ Use quality control processes to ensure the bacteriological and chemical safety of the water.
+ Sample and test both source water and the final product for contaminants.
The FDA monitors and inspects bottled water products and processing plants under its food safety program. When the FDA inspects plants, the agency verifies:
+ That the plant’s product water and operational water supply are obtained from an approved source.
+ Inspects washing and sanitizing procedures.
+ Inspects bottling operations.
+ Determines whether the companies analyze their source water and product water for contaminants.
New types of flavored and/or nutrient-added water beverages have begun to appear in stores and on food service menus. Some are simply bottled water with flavoring, others may also contain added nutrients such as vitamins, electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and amino acids.
The bottled water ingredients of these flavored and nutrient-added water beverages must meet the bottled water requirements if the term “water” is highlighted on the label, as in, for example, a product named Berry Flavored Spring Water Beverage.
In addition, the flavorings and nutrients added to these beverages must comply with all applicable FDA safety requirements and they must be identified in the ingredient list on the label.
According to the International Bottled Water Association, bottled water was the second most popular beverage in the United States in 2005, with Americans consuming more than 7.5 million gallons of bottled water — an average of 26 gallons per person. Today, only carbonated soft drinks outsell bottled water.
Richard P. Hoffmann, Pharm.D., has been a pharmacist for more than 40 years. Send questions to him at 2960 E. Coventry Court, Hernando, FL 34442.