For many of us, we consider bottled water to be the safest choice. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. For a number of years, there have been concerns that bacteria may be present in bottled water. So, should you be concerned? bacteria-texture-1161974

The History of the Problem: 

The Natural Resources Defense Council asked about this issue back in 1999. A team tested 1,000 samples from over 100 different bottled water brands and found that approximately a third contained microbe or chemical contamination.

There was a slow reaction from the bottled water industry. The FDA is responsible for the regulation of bottled water, rather than the EPA, who govern tap water. While the FDA did have standards in place at this time, the bottled water companies were not obliged to say where their water was sourced, what it contained and how it was treated. An FDA quote from 2002 stated that inspection of water bottling companies and facilities was considered to be a low priority. This changed in 2013 when the FDA promised to impose stricter regulations, and there would be serious consequences for companies if E Coli were found in any bottle of water.  

The FDA Regulations: 

While this may seem reassuring, when you look at the FDA regulations more closely, you will see that a level of 9.2 coliform bacteria in 100 ml of water is permitted. This means that in a 20 ounce bottle of water, the FDA regulations allow for over 54 coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria is a general term for a group of bacteria including E.coli.

The FDA does restrict the E.coli level to zero, but this means that there could still be 54 forms of bacteria in the above mentioned water bottle. Coliform bacteria is not considered harmful, but are taken as an indicator of microbiological activity. This means that in effect, they can indicate the presence of potentially harmful microbes.  

Other Standards: 

Fortunately, the FDA regulations are not the only standards in the bottled water industry. The IWBA or International Bottled Water Association has a standard for water of zero coliform bacteria. Companies who are members of the IWBA are mandated to meet this standard. Unfortunately, not every bottled water company is a member.

Most bottled water companies do now list their purification process on their websites. Some will even promote test reports to show that their brand of water is completely safe. Unfortunately, there is still an element of trust, where you have to rely on the data for Total Dissolved Solids and other water contaminants being accurate. This means that next time you feel thirsty, you will need to ask yourself whether you trust the different brands of bottled water on the shelf in the store.  

If you are concerned about excellent quality drinking water, you should speak to a water treatment professional. There is a wide selection of filtration systems, water softeners/ water conditioners available on the market. A fully WQA certified professional will be able to advise you on the range of systems that exceed industry standards and can offer you unrivaled quality drinking water. 

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.

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