Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Who ever could think of "recall" of bottled water products from the market based on safety considerations, that too in a country like the US where normal piped water supply is considered safe for drinking? But such things do happen and the industry deserves some appreciation for this action, though the intention behind such recalls might have more to do with brand image protection that consumer safety.

"This list (which I will soon post online) includes a remarkable list of contaminants. In addition to the benzene found in Perrier, bottled water has been found to contain mold, sodium hydroxide, kerosene, styrene, algae, yeast, tetrahydrofuran, sand, fecal coliforms and other forms of bacteria, elevated chlorine, "filth," glass particles, sanitizer, and in my very favorite example, crickets.Yes, crickets. In 1994, a bottler in Nacogdoches, Texas issued a recall for sparkling water found to be contaminated with crickets. The water was distributed in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia and the recall notice wasn't issued until seven months after being bottled and distributed, making it unlikely that consumers were notified in time to avoid buying the contaminated bottles. Maybe they thought it was a bonus, like that worm in tequila, or the weird things sometimes found in flavored vodkas".

Indians can take solace that no one has so far complained seriously about the safety of bottled water though there are more than 1000 bottling units working across the country. Here again the reason for such a "clean" record has more to do with the slack safety vigilance system than the efficiency of the industry! There was a hiccup some time back regarding presence of pesticide residues in the products manufactured by some major players but nothing much has happened there after. The ISI marking and safety overseeing by the Bureau of Indian Standards are nothing but a sham as this agency is more interested in the revenue coming out of the licensing process rather than enforcing the specifications for which it has neither the expertise nor the personnel and the infrastructure. Indian consumers are left to fend for them selves while the bottling industry is laughing all the way to their banks with their undeserved bounty.

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