The following is an excerpt from my Green Living column on Examiner.com:
There are a few things we consumers, er, humans need to take seriously: the first is air, the second is water. Let’s put aside a debate about the ozone for a moment, as Jennifer Aniston’s face passes by on the side of a bus. She is shushing us about Glaceau’s smartwater. Is it because consumers are given less information about bottled water than what they can drink from the tap because the two are regulated differently? Companies that produce bottled water–a $11.2 billion industry including PepsiCo Inc.’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola Co.’s Dasani–currently aren’t required to report tests that turned up contamination.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require companies that produce bottled water to report positive tests for contaminants. However, municipal water authorities, overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), must report dangerous contaminants within 24 hours. Consumer advocates testified Wednesday, July 8, before the Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations panel that bottlers should be required to disclose more information to consumers.
As Wall Street Journal’s Jane Zhang, succinctly says, “Federal regulation hasn’t caught up with Americans’ taste for bottled water.” Ironically, taste does not seem to be a high priority for Glaceau’s smartwater; a spokesperson for the company had this to say: “To us, Jennifer truly embodies what smartwater is all about as she combines substance and style like nobody else.”
Stricter labeling urged for bottled water
Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, recommend that bottled water be labeled with the same level of information municipal water providers must disclose. The EWG recommends purifying tap water with a commercial filter;
According to Emily Fredrix, “The researchers urged Americans to make bottled water ‘a distant second choice’ to filtered tap water because there isn’t enough information about bottled water.”
The GAO said the FDA should start by requiring that bottled water labels tell consumers where to find out more. Community water systems must distribute annual reports about their water’s source, contaminants and possible health concerns. Wiles agreed:
“If the municipal tap water systems can tell their customers this information, you would think that bottled water companies that charge 1,000 times more for this water could also let consumers know the same thing.”