Stringent Federal, State and Industry Standards Help Ensure Safety, Quality and Good Taste
Newly released statistics by Beverage Marketing Corporation show U.S. bottled water sales and consumption continuing to rise as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other commercial beverages. This upward trend was reflected in wholesale dollar sales of more than $7.7 billion, a 12.3 percent increase over 2001, and a 2002 bottled water consumption level of 21.2 gallons-per-capita, a 10.8 percent increase over the previous year. These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand and appreciation for the convenience and good taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants or meetings and at home or the office. However, consumers should also know that bottled water safety and quality result from multiple layers of regulation and standards at the federal, state and industry levels.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully regulates bottled water as a packaged food product with stringent standards for safety, quality, production, labeling and identity. State governments also regulate bottled water and, for members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the industry upholds additional standards through the IBWA Model Code, which are verified through annual, unannounced plant inspections by an independent, third-party organization.
Along with FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) required of all foods, bottled water has several other applicable regulations including Standards of Identity, Standards of Quality and additional, specific bottled water GMPs. Being a packaged food product, bottled water also is bound by the Nutrition Labeling Education Act (NLEA) and the full range of FDA protective measures designed to enforce product safety and protect consumers. States may also mandate additional bottled water standards and also serve to inspect, sample, analyze and approve bottled water sources. Testing laboratory certification is another area where states may regulate bottled water. As part of the IBWA Model Code, IBWA members voluntarily utilize the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) for a science-based approach to bottled water production and safety. FDA recognizes HACCP as a key component of food safety and consumer protection.
"While all beverages have their place in a marketplace with an abundance of drink choices," said Stephen R. Kay, IBWA vice president of communications, "consumers are choosing bottled water as a refreshing, hydrating beverage and as an alternative to other drinks that may contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial colors, alcohol or other ingredients."
For an overview of bottled water regulations and standards and other bottled water information, visit the IBWA web site at www.bottledwater.org.