IBWA Testifies on Bottled Water Regulations

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) presented testimony to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Energy and Commerce Committee of U.S. House of Representatives, on the regulation of bottled water.

Addressing these issues, IBWA President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Doss stated: “Bottled water is comprehensively and stringently regulated in the United States at both the federal and state levels, which helps ensure its safety and quality. At the federal level, bottled water is regulated as a packaged food product by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It must meet FDA’s general food regulations as well as standards of identity, standards of quality, good manufacturing practices, and labeling requirements specifically promulgated for bottled water.”

According to Doss, the labeling requirements call for listing of ingredients; the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor; the product’s net weight; and, if required, nutrition labeling. The agency also has standards of identity (including labeling requirements that identify the type of bottled water), quality, and good manufacturing practices.

The standard of identity developed uniform definitions of water types: bottled, drinking, artesian, groundwater, distilled, deionized, reverse osmosis, mineral, purified, sparkling, spring, sterile and well water.

Doss said that "If a bottled water product’s source is a municipal water system and it does not meet the FDA Standard of Identity for purified or sterile water, it must indicate the public water system source on the label.”

He also said the association supports a consumer's right to "clear, accurate and comprehensive information." Doss noted that phone numbers on the labels can help consumers find the product information they need.

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, in 2007, the total volume of bottled water consumed in the United States surpassed 8.8 billion gallons, a 6.9 percent advance over the 2006 volume level. That translates into an average of 29.3 gallons per person, which means U.S. residents now drink more bottled water annually than any other beverage except carbonated soft drinks. Sales revenues for the U.S. bottled water market in 2008 were approximately $11.2 billion (in wholesale dollars), a 3.2 percent decrease over the previous year.

“Yet, even at these levels, bottled water accounts for less than 0.02 percent of all groundwater withdrawals annually,” Doss stated.

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