Are you Drinking Bottled Water Regularly?
Between 1980 and 2003, the CDC confirmed four outbreaks of Acute Gastrointestinal Illness caused by contamination of bottled water by various types of bacterial, chemical, and unidentified agents. Contamination occurred during commercial bottling of the water. This leaves us baffled about the suitability of bottled drinking water as a healthier and safer option for individuals and families.
Bottled water, however, remains a top beverage in the U.S. and comes second as a favorite drink after other popular soft drinks. But many questions arise on the regulation, sampling, and inspection of bottled water for quality assurance. This brings us to the inevitable comparison between tap and bottled water and the risks and benefits of each.
Regulation of Bottled Water in the US
Any drinking water packaged in glass or plastic bottles is defined as bottled water. The primary sources of such water vary; some bottled water is distilled tap water while some is fetched from wells or springs.
When faced with health complications arising from contaminated bottled water, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises you to consult your nearest medical health provider. The FDA regulates bottled water while the Environmental Protection Agency regulates public drinking water or tap water.
The FDA, through the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) gets the mandate to ensure manufacturers produce safe and wholesome water. The label on each water bottle should truthfully list its ingredients. Otherwise, the manufacturer could face charges of supplying misbranded or adulterated products.
What Does Regulation of Bottled Water Entail?
To expedite its regulatory task, the FDA classifies the various types of bottled water as spring and mineral water. The first grouping broadly defines such water as either coming from natural sources like artesian water, well water, spring water, and ground water.
The FDA recognizes bottled water as that found in sealed containers or bottles which is meant for human consumption. It does not contain any additives and has acceptable levels of antimicrobial agents.
The other group comprises final products of the drink obtained through some form of chemical process. Such bottled water types include mineral water, fluoridated water, sterile water, purified water, and sparkling water.
Regardless of the source of bottled water, the FDA acts by implementing the following quality guidelines for bottling and processing:
- It sets standard levels of contaminants in bottled water
- It ensures the water source remains free of contamination
- It carries out tests and sampling to ensure chemical and bacteriological safety of water
- It requires that the different types produced adhere to set regulations
- It checks sanitation of the bottling plant
- It requires availing of inspection records of firms’ operations to relevant government inspectors
The Bottled Water vs. Tap Water Debate
With such stringent regulations, you may be looking for answers on how contamination sets in on factory-processed water. Since 1767, when the first Jackson’s Spa bottled and sold the first bottled water in the U.S. the debate on bottled water vs. tap water continues. In June 2015, Niagara Bottling issued a voluntary bottled water recall due to E.coli contamination at its spring source.
Tap water suffers contamination by pathogens, radioactive, and chemical agents from the source. This pollution often occurs during times of natural disasters or when individuals with malicious intent infect the water to harm society. Local governments have the responsibility of treating public water to acceptable standards to ensure it remains safe and wholesome for its residents.
When you take a sip from your bottle of water, you may think that it’s tap water – but you know it’s more than that. Bottled water continues to thrive in the market for its enhanced taste and convenience and safe transportation and storage.
Poor tap water quality and the drawbacks of sugary drinks add to the advantages of bottled water. However, if tap water comes well labeled, purified, or distilled, regulators should stamp its approval.
On the other hand, although the PET plastic bottles are recyclable, that has not kept them from playing a role in environmental degradation. They cause land and water pollution due to poor disposal. You also have to pay for bottled water, and this negatively impacts your budget.
Bottled Water in Disaster Management
At times, bottled water gets contaminated due to mishandling or inadequate processing. However, it is recommended as part of the emergency kit assembled for use in disaster management.
Natural calamities cut off or contaminate public water sources. Individuals should store bottled water for such times since it offers a safer and reliable solution. Experts recommend a 3.8-liter gallon per person for three days in the management of all domestic and hygiene functions. More water is needed in hot climates.
Obviously, you don’t expect water to go bad like perishable goods. However, since bottled water is a product of chemical reactions, it’s imperative that you take note of the sell-by date displayed on the bottle. So, how long does bottled water last?
It all depends on how long the manufacturer feels the water will smell and taste fresh. The shelf life of even the best bottled water is not indicative of contamination, and therefore the water remains safe for consumption as long as the seal remains intact. To keep it safe, store your bottled water in a cool dark place for no longer than six months. In the case of treated tap water, change it every six months and disinfect the containers.
Stay Safe with the Right Water
In as much as safety concerns exist over tap water, you need to consider similar questions about tap water. You may not be able to investigate matters such as the origin of the water and safety measures taken to purify or package it. The only way you would know that such water is below par is an unpleasant taste and possible illness after using it.
Ensure you take only treated water that your local regulator approves as safe for human consumption. Take comfort in the fact that some jurisdictions take tap water standards more seriously than bottled water standards. Whether tap or bottled water, your life depends on the quality, packaging, and components. While water bottle brands abound, be sure to get only the best bottled water.
In the ideal world you would be wise to use a alkaline water machine which has at least 4-8 filters and the ability to give you varying alkaline values. Glass bottles are the cleanest (if cleaned often) to use. This is followed by stainless steel. Plastic bottles are the least preferred and if you use them be sure they are BPA free.
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.