The United States Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water through quality standards and labeling regulations. In addition, bottled water producers must follow FDAâ€™s manufacturing practices to ensure safe water consumption.
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) sets a code for labeling bottled water. National sanitation foundation (NSF) international is an organization that certifies bottled water based on FDA requirements. In addition, the bottled water that belongs to IBWA and NSF international undergoes annual third-party inspections.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is an international organization for standardizing food products. It has developed the standard for natural mineral water, labeling, quality, and composition. The CAC represents universal consent for consumers, and it is not strictly mandatory. WHO is a co-sponsor of the CAC organization. The most common plastic used in bottled water is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Plastic bottles have a triangle symbol at the bottom, which represents recycling, and the numbers represent plastic grades.
Labeling terms for bottled water
FDA regulates bottled water under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. Therefore, it has set guidelines for standard terms like artesian, mineral, spring, and sparkling water on labels. These terms describe the sources, characteristics, and treatment processes of water.
Mineral water: A bottled water claiming that mineral water must contain at least 250 parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter (mg/L) of the total dissolved solids (TDS). If the TDS is below 500 ppm or greater than 1500 ppm, the label must show the term â€œlow mineral contentâ€ or â€œhigh mineral content.â€ The mineral source is a natural proportion of minerals and not added elements in the water.
Artesian, ground, well, and spring water: Spring water indicates water that flows to the surface from an underground source or a borehole near the spring point. Artesian water and well water are collected from the well. Groundwater is either unprocessed well water or spring water.
Water that is suitable for human consumption and has no additives other than fluoride.
Municipal water: Bottled water obtained from municipal water supplies must contain a â€œmunicipal sourceâ€ label. However, the label must include the â€œdistilledâ€ or â€œpurified waterâ€ term if it is processed.
Sterile or Infant brands: The label â€œsterileâ€ refers to water that meets FDAâ€™s sterility standards.
Distilled water has no bacteria or natural minerals since it undergoes boiling and condensation before being bottled.
Before carbon dioxide replacement treatment, sparkling bottled water contained the same quantity of carbon dioxide as the water source.
â€œPurifiedâ€ labels refer to free of chemicals and pathogens. The process that purifies water is distillation, reverse osmosis, or deionization.
Labels that include sources like glaciers or mountain water do not come under label regulation standards.
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act enacted in 1990 require nutritional information on the labels. In addition, FDA established regulations for bottled water in 1995. As a result, bottled water producers must follow sanitation in processing, packaging, and transporting the products. The labels on bottled water should include the following:
name and type of the product
name and address of the manufacturer
Water sources must be free from pathogens, chemicals, and contaminants. In addition, the producers of bottled water must use standard processes and tests to ensure the quality of water.
The labeling must include nutrition facts present in the water. Though water has zero calories, fat, and protein, labels with information like sodium content are helpful to the consumer.
FDA provides specifications for labeling water with chloride, sodium, fluoride, manganese, phenol, zinc, and iron.
FDA specifies the acceptable levels of pesticides and synthetic chemicals that some bottlers use in their water products. It includes the allowed amount of barium, copper, lead, selenium, cadmium, and nickel.
The adhesives that stick the labels should be moisture resistant. The information becomes unreadable if the labels peel off.
FDA confirms that bottled water has an indefinite expiration period when it is sealed and unused. Bottled water producers voluntarily include an expiration date on the labels. The date indicated on the label or bottle indicates the taste and odor quality of the water.
The label on disposable bottled water must include the declaration, â€œCrush the bottle after use.â€
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