Jan 06, 2011

EWG Report: Bottled Water Labels Lack Consumer Information

Survey found that some brands do not list source or treatment data

A survey of websites and labels of more than 170 bottled waters sold in the U.S. found only three–and only one of the top 10 domestic brands–that give customers information about the water’s source, the method of purification and any chemical pollutants that remained after the water was treated, according to a new report by Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Nestlé’s Pure Life Purified Water discloses its water source and treatment method on the label and offers an 800 number that consumers can call to request a water quality test report. Nine other top domestic brands–Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Pepsi’s Aquafina, Crystal Geyser and six other of Nestlé’s seven brands–do not answer at least one of the three key questions:

• Where does the water come from?;
• Is it purified? How?; and
• Have tests found any contaminants?

EWG’s new survey of 173 bottled water brands finds some improvements from its 2009 Bottled Water Scorecard. It found that overall, 18% of bottled waters do not list the source, and 32% do not provide information on treatment or purity of the water.

According to EWG senior vice president Jane Houlihan, much of the packaging is dedicated to marketing. Many bottles depict mountain streams or springs, which can be misleading since much of bottled water comes from municipal sources, she said.

Municipal tap water is the source for 47.8% of bottled water, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp.'s annual report for 2009.