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All bottled water is not the same

Water that has been specially packaged for human consumption is collectively termed "bottled water." There are several different types of bottled water that can be categorized according to their source and any treatment that may have been applied to the water to make it safe for drinking. According to current regulations, water that is termed "spring" or "mineral" water must come from an underground source that does not supply water to a community.

The water source must be potable at its origin and cannot undergo any treatment that would modify the composition of the water, with the exception of carbonation, the addition of ozone as a disinfectant and fluoridation to prevent tooth decay. The difference between "spring" and "mineral" water is that mineral water has a higher concentration of mineral salts than spring water.

Bottled water that is not labeled as "spring" or "mineral" water can be from any source. It can also be treated by any number of procedures to make it safe for drinking or more appealing or both. If the water has been treated, the label must state what procedure was used. If the label says, "distilled water" the water was distilled. Bottled water which labels state "demineralized water" have undergone a procedure other than distillation that reduced the mineral content of the water to less than 10 parts per billion.

"Carbonated water" is water that has added carbon dioxide to give the water carbonation. Bottled waters that do not fall into any one standard category must be described for what they are on the label in a correct and non-deceptive manner. Tap water that has been "distilled" or "demineralized" could indeed be sold as bottled water.

Just as any other packaged food must display certain information on the label, there is particular information that bottled water labels must provide. Common name, list of ingredients, quantity and the name and address of the company accountable are all required label information for any food produce. Information about fluoride ion content is required on all bottled water labels. Statements providing information about dissolved mineral salt content, whether ozone or fluoride has been added and the location of the underground source of water are required label content specific to spring or mineral water. Bottled waters other than "spring" or "mineral" must provide a description of any treatments applied to the water.

It is acceptable for bottled water to contain harmless, naturally occurring bacteria, however, it is requisite that the water be free of pathogenic bacteria. Do not drink bottled water that is not clear and is not free of debris or discoloration.

Bottled water should be stored in sealed containers in a cool, dark place. If quantities of water are being stored, be sure to rotate the inventory so that the oldest waters are used first, therefore preventing expiration of shelf-life. Most bottled water companies claim that their water has a two-year shelf-life.

Web posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006

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