Pack­aged Drink­ing Wa­ter

Some are mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cally un­safe. Don’t drink them

Consumer Voice - - Contents -

In a coun­try where suf­fi­cient and safe potable wa­ter is not avail­able ev­ery­where, ei­ther be­cause harm­ful chem­i­cal sub­stances are found in the lay­ers of earth which en­ter into wa­ter or be­cause the wa­ter may be con­tam­i­nated due to path­o­genic micro­organ­isms, pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter is se­ri­ous business. How­ever, what if the pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter – the one that you and I buy at a price in the be­lief that it is the safest – is not drink­able enough? What if it has harm­ful or­gan­isms? In such a case, there can­not be two opin­ions that the seller is not only breach­ing the con­sumer's trust but is also putting their health at risk. Con­sid­er­ing that pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter is con­sumed by an ever-in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion, the rules gov­ern­ing its sourc­ing and treat­ment pro­cesses have to be strictly con­formed to. In or­der to find out if un­healthy pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter brands are be­ing sold in the In­dian market, Con­sumerVoice tested a dozen top brands – on the ba­sis of their market share – in an NABL-ac­cred­ited lab­o­ra­tory. While most brands passed all tests and fulfilled the pa­ram­e­ters set by the na­tional stan­dards, the sam­ples of a few failed in cru­cial mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cal tests. Is your bot­tled wa­ter brand one of them? Here's a com­plete re­port for you to find that out.

The test pro­gramme for pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter is based on IS: 14543: 2004 with the lat­est amend­ments. Test pa­ram­e­ters were mainly based on IS in or­der to judge the over­all qual­ity, as also on the re­quire­ments of FSS Reg­u­la­tions, 2011, which cover the prod­uct re­quire­ments.

We tested 12 brands of one-litre pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter on qual­ity, ac­cept­abil­ity and sen­sory pa­ram­e­ters. The test­ing was con­ducted in an NABLac­cred­ited lab­o­ra­tory ca­pa­ble of test­ing and analysing pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter as per the men­tioned stan­dards.

The key pa­ram­e­ters for which the 12 brands were tested in­cluded pres­ence of un­de­sir­able sub­stances and mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cal or­gan­isms, pes­ti­cide residues, toxic/heavy met­als, to­tal dis­solved solids (TDS), pH level, ra­dioac­tiv­ity, tur­bid­ity and colour.

As per Gazette No­ti­fi­ca­tion dated 15 Novem­ber 2015, is­sued by the min­istry of health and fam­ily wel­fare, FSS Amended Reg­u­la­tion 2016 (as per re­vised ver­sion of IS 14543: 2016) has come into force from 1 March 2017. For the lat­est Con­sumer Voice re­port on pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter, since the sam­ples of wa­ter were drawn from the market be­fore 1 March 2017, the test pro­gramme was car­ried out on the ba­sis of IS: 14543: 2004.

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