Drinking Water, Bottled Water (cont.)
Production of bottled water also must follow the current good manufacturing
practices (CGMP) regulations set up and enforced by the FDA. Water must be
sampled, analyzed and found to be safe and sanitary. These regulations also
require proper plant and equipment design, bottling procedures and recordkeeping.
The FDA also oversees inspections of the bottling plants. Kim says,
"Because the FDA's experience over the years has shown that bottled water
poses no significant public health risk, we consider bottled water not to be a
high risk food." Nevertheless, the FDA inspects bottled water plants under
its general food safety program and also contracts with the states to perform
some bottled water plant inspections. In addition, some states require bottled
water firms to be licensed annually.
Members of the IBWA also agree to adhere to the
Association's Model Code, a
set of standards that is more stringent than federal regulations in some areas.
Bottling plants that adopt the IBWA Model Code agree to one unannounced annual
inspection by an independent firm.
The FDA also classifies some bottled water according to its origin.
- Artesian well water.
Water from a well that taps an aquifer--layers of porous rock, sand and earth that contain water--which is under pressure from
surrounding upper layers of rock or clay. When tapped, the pressure in the
aquifer, commonly called artesian pressure, pushes the water above the level of
the aquifer, sometimes to the surface. Other means may be used to help bring the
water to the surface. According to the EPA, water from artesian aquifers often
is more pure because the confining layers of rock and clay impede the movement
of contamination. However, despite the claims of some bottlers, there is no
guarantee that artesian waters are any cleaner than ground water from an
unconfined aquifer, the EPA says.
- Mineral water. Water from an underground
source that contains at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids.
Minerals and trace elements must come from the source of the underground water.
They cannot be added later.
- Spring water. Derived from an underground formation
from which water flows naturally to the earth's surface. Spring water must be
collected only at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground
formation feeding the spring. If some external force is used to collect the
water through a borehole, the water must have the same composition and quality
as the water that naturally flows to the surface.
- Well water. Water from a hole
bored or drilled into the ground, which taps into an aquifer. Bottled water may
be used as an ingredient in beverages, such as diluted juices or flavored
bottled waters. However, beverages labeled as containing "sparkling
water," "seltzer water," "soda water," "tonic
water," or "club soda" are not included as bottled water under
the FDA's regulations, because these beverages have historically been considered