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More stringent regulation needs to be used for bottled water companies. A shocking fact that many consumers are probably not aware of is that twenty five percent of all bottled water comes right from municipal water tap sources, from cities all over. It’s difficult for consumers to notice the taste difference between spring water and refined tap water as companies re-purify and/or add minerals to the water. (McGrath). Consumers are sold by the claims of natural, pure, wholesome water, but aren’t always receiving those benefits.
Samples of bottled water from large companies such as Aquafina and Dasani were used in a large study, among one hundred and three other brands of bottled water conducted by Natural Resources Canada, this study only resulted in even more disturbing, shocking facts pertaining to the bottled water industry. The study concluded that “about one-third of the waters tested contained levels of contamination including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria and arsenic”. (Canadian Dimension)
If bottled water companies continue their profit oriented ways, and nothing is done to prevent the water being sold to consumers as “pure, natural, purified and filtered” when there is a large chance that statement is not fully truthful, the companies will continue their dirty ways. In order for bottled water companies to compete with the “taste” of tap water, extra ingredients are added to the bottled water. These extra ingredients companies put in may include: calcium, magnesium, and possibly salt, in minimal amounts. (Stanek)
Deception of what a product consists of is another business oriented tactic used by companies. Take bottled water giant Poland Spring for an example. It’s safe to assume that a majority of all Americans have seen what the label of a Poland Spring water bottle looks like, with the “Natural Spring Water From Maine Since 1845”, written on a banner in front of a stream flowing in between a group of trees. The deceptive part of this is the label itself. When a consumer sees the visual of a lush stream within a group of trees, and below the picture is a banner with “Natural Spring Water From Maine Since 1845”, chances are the company just earned another sale. Yes, there truly is a spring in Maine called “Poland Spring”, but it is no longer the source of Poland Springs bottled water, since 1996. That’s over ten years ago and most people still are left to believe that they are buying water from a “Poland Spring” in the state of Maine. Poland Spring is still allowed to say that their water is from Maine, but there are multiple springs, (roughly three different spring sources) located up to thirty miles from the primary spring. (McGrath)
The Food and Drug Administration follows the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to regulate bottled water. However, due to the Food and Drug Administration’s status as a federal government agency, only thirty to forty percent of bottled water being sold across state lines can be monitored. In conclusion, a large sixty to seventy percent of bottled water being sold within a single state, is not included in that previously mentioned regulation that is enforced under the Food and Drug Administration’s Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. For the water that falls into the group that is chosen to be regulated under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the requirement for testing the water being used for bottled, is very minimal. Once per year, bottled water, with the exception of carbonated bottled water, is checked for chemical, physical, as well as radiological contaminants. Adding to the already minimal safety checks on the integrity of a “wholesome water”, the Food and Drug Administration has just one, yes one single full time worker employed to over watch the bottled water testing. These two factors, with minimally checking the integrity of the water being used in bottled water, only occurring once per year, and the absolute bare minimum amount of workers that are full time, who knows what could be slipping through the cracks. Hopefully nothing too serious before it’s irreversible. (The Progressive)
Even with a majority of bottled water operations being looked at by the Food and Drug Administration under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, officials who are working within the bottled water industry itself are not saying or promising that bottled water is a safer alternative to tap water, otherwise known as municipal tap water. In fact, the president of the International Bottled Water Association, Joe Doss, adds: “We think drinking water, whether it’s bottled or tap water, is a good thing. I will not state that bottled water is healthier.” Doss also points out that: “It just boils down to what consumers prefer.” (Springen) If the president of what is the largest representation of bottled water, on an international scale publically acknowledges this, and practically confirming that bottled water isn’t cleaner than tap water, why are so many companies still trying to sway and persuade consumers into purchasing their product by making them think that they are going to be drinking something of higher quality?
The issue of whether or not bottled water is truly wholesome, and “pure, natural, purified, filtered” doesn’t just apply to the water itself. Let’s say that there are two different brands of bottled water, side by side, both from the same source. Both brand A and brand B collect water from a shared source and bottle it, selling it as “pure, natural, purified, filtered..” but when an independent research group decides that they would like to verify and test the truth behind those claims, they find that brand A has water that is more contaminated than the water brand B is selling. Why might this be? The water bottle itself! Companies should not be given the OK to bottle water, regardless of how pure it is, because in the end, the “pureness” of that water in the bottled could be compromised from the chemicals and materials that leech into the water over time or pressure from the bottle itself. With an average of twenty six billion water bottles consumed by Americans in one year, and only about fourteen percent of those bottles being recycled… Think about all of the chemicals from the plastic that could be risking the health to the American Consumers that purchase the bottled water regularly and consume it, and also its negative impact on the environment once it is melted down for recycling. The Food and Drug Administration requirements say that companies need to be testing a minimum of four empty plastic water bottles on a tri-monthly basis. This testing is required due to the possibility of a bacterial contamination. A fairly disturbing piece of information just to add on top of all of this, is that the Food and Drug Administration does not currently have a specific requirement for bottled water companies to make the sample/quality testing results with the public and the consumer group. On the other hand, municipal water providers are required by the Food and Drug Administration to make this information available for all to see. (The Progressive)
Some people argue that nobody is forcing consumers to purchase either bottled water or water from the tap. While this statement is completely true, consumers should not have to be scammed by false advertising of a product, regardless of what that product may be. When a product has information provided about it, and the consumer reads that information, it should be truthful. Just because there is less enforcement on the operation and distribution of bottled water, companies should not be trying to take advantage of it. One solution to this problem is to mandate that all water suppliers, both municipal/city tap water sources, and bottled water sources release water testing results to everyone on a monthly schedule. The outcome of this is a more informed consumer group. For the companies and suppliers themselves, there is a chance that by keeping consumers and potential consumers informed, sales might even begin to increase because there would be less frustration and confusion from having to guess what the actual quality of the water being consumed is.
In the end, the choice is ultimately up to the consumer, just as Joseph Doss, the President and CEO of the International Bottled Water Association stated. No matter what the source of the water is, whether it be from the municipal tap source, or from the bottle, water is water. There will always be companies who are more honest and have better marketing practice than others in the way that they convey a product to a consumer, but the true solution to this is to mandate increased publishing’s of quality reports.
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