Jyoti Tewari,15 Oct :What is bottled water? Bottled water is water sold to consumers in sealed containers. It can be represented as "spring" or "mineral" water. It might also bewater from various sources that may have been treated to make it fit for human consumption and put in sealed containers for sale.
Why has there been such an increase in the consumption of bottled water?
This is a matter of personal taste and preference for bottled water over municipal tap water. Survey results have also shown that consumers are concerned about the quality (chemical pollutants) of drinking water in Canada. Some people think that bottled water is safer than municipal tap water, but there is no evidence to support this.
Are there bacteria in bottled water?
Bacteria are found in most bottled waters sold for drinking purposes. Bottled water is usually disinfected to remove harmful organisms, but is not intended to sterilize the water. Usually, sterile water is reserved for pharmaceuticals.
Many studies have shown that the levels of bacteria increase quickly to maximum levels after six weeks of unrefrigerated shelf life. However, since disinfection (ultra-violet (UV) light, or ozonation) destroys the harmful organisms, this natural regrowth of harmless flora of the water is not considered to be a health hazard. Refrigeration is recommended after the water container is opened in case harmful bacteria are reintroduced at this time.
Can drinking water cause illness?
Untreated or inadequately treated water from wells and other sources can contain sufficient numbers of disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, parasites and viruses to cause illness. Health Canada is coordinating the development of the "Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality" and Canadians can be assured that Canada has high quality drinking water. These guidelines are intended to apply to all drinking water supplies, public and private.
Bottled water can also contain these contaminants. However, illness caused by bottled water is very rare in Canada because it is treated, disinfected and monitored to ensure the absence of harmful organisms. To the best of our knowledge, no waterborne disease outbreaks have been associated with the consumption of bottled water in Canada. Published reports have shown that in countries where manufacturing practices are not as strict as in Canada, improperly manufacturedbottled water has led to outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, and to "Traveller’s Disease.
What are the government regulations on bottled water?
In Canada, pre-packaged water (bottled water) is considered to be a food and is regulated under Division 12 of the Food and Drug Regulations. Bottled water is defined as follows:
Bottled water labelled mineral or spring water is a potable water (fit for human consumption) that comes from an underground source. It cannot come from a public water supply. Mineral water is spring water with a larger amount of dissolved mineral salts, usually above 500 milligrams per litre of total dissolved solids. (The content may vary depending on specific regulations in different countries. For example, in the United States, mineral water contains more than 250 milligrams per litre of total dissolved solids.) Mineral and spring waters must not have their composition modified through the use of chemicals, but carbon dioxide and ozone can be added during the bottling process to protect the freshness.
Bottled water not represented as mineral or spring water, is water from any source (municipal water, well water, etc) that can be treated to make it fit for human consumption or to modify its composition. Treatments include carbonation, ozonation, ultraviolet irradiation, and filtration to remove harmful bacteria. These bottled waters can be distilled or passed through different deionization processes to remove their minerals, or they are simply municipal tap waters bottled for sale. The label on these water containers must show how they have been treated, for example "carbonated", "demineralized", "distilled", etc. See Table 1.
All bottled water offered for sale must be safe for people to consume. Mineral or spring water must not contain any coliform bacteria or harmful substances at the source. Other bottled waters may undergo a variety of treatments and should meet the regulatory requirements for coliform and aerobic bacteria. Pre-packaged ice also has to comply with the regulations. Because they are foods, pre-packaged (bottled)water and ice also have to comply with all of the provisions of the Canadian Food and Drugs Act.
For example, no person shall sell an article of food that was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged, stored, or has been subject to any unsanitary conditions from the manufacturing stage through to retail.
Could bottled water be manufactured from tap water?
Yes, except for water represented as spring water or mineral water which must be from a potable underground source and not from a community water supply. It is possible that some bottled water, such as demineralized water or distilled water, is simply tap water that has undergone a process to lower the mineral content and to remove chemicals such as chlorine.