The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has urged the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require additional water quality
information on bottled water labels. This response came to the bottled water
industryÕs claim that providing such information to consumers was
"Protecting public health demands full disclosure
from drinking water suppliers, even if they supply their water in a
bottle," said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of AWWA. "Water
utilities already provide the public with easy access to drinking water quality
information. The FDA is right to hold water bottlers to the same standard."
Under federal law, any packaged or bottled foodstuff is
considered a food and falls under the purview of the FDA. This technicality
allows water bottlers to meet less rigorous testing, treatment and public
notification regulations than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demands
of community water suppliers. Unlike water utilities, water bottlers are not
currently required to actively inform the public about the quality of the water
During the past 15 years, personal bottled water
consumption in the United States has risen more than 300 percent. In 1998,
American consumers bought almost $5 billion worth of bottled water and purchases
are expected to rise to $64 billion by 2003. The FDA has proposed that
additional water quality information be printed on the labels of bottled water.
Although bottled water suppliers have contended this is unnecessary, a 1999
report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found that one-third of tested
bottled water had levels in violation of USEPA quality standards.
"Water suppliers have an obligation to produce safe,
clean drinking water, whether it comes from a tap or a bottle," Hoffbuhr
said. "Unfortunately, the public remains uninformed about bottled water
quality, including which, if any, treatment water bottlers undertake before
selling their product."
(Source: American Water Works Association)