How do I know my bottled water is safe in Australia?
Consumers can trust that bottled water is safe for many reasons. The first is that bottled water is strictly regulated by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Food Standards Code. These regulations ensure that all bottled water sold in Australia meets these stringent standards. In addition members of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) who produce the majority of the bottled water in Australia, must meet strict industry standards established by the association. These standards contained in the ABWI "Model Code" exceed the FSANZ regulations currently in place for bottled water.
To ensure that all their bottled water is as safe as possible, and of the highest quality, all ABWI members use one or more of the following practises: source protection and monitoring, reverse osmosis, distillation, filtration, ozonation and disinfection.
Available Australian records indicate that bottled water has never been responsible for an outbreak of waterborne illness.
How is Bottled water different from tap water?
Consistent quality and taste are two of the principle differences between bottled and tap water.
Quality is in every container of bottled water. It is consistent and it is inspected and monitored. Unfortunately tap water can be inconsistent - sometimes it might be OK, while other times it is not.
Taste is another major reason people prefer bottled water versus tap water. Chlorine is most often used to disinfect tap water. That can leave an after-taste and lead to other problems. Some bottlers use ozone, a form of supercharged oxygen, and/or ultra-violet light as the final disinfecting agents, both of which leave no taste or chemical trace.
I've read about Cryptosporidium being found in tap water. What is it?
Cryptosporidium is a waterborne parasite that lives in animals and can be passed into the water through their waste. Cryptosporidium occysts from animal wastes have been found in rivers, streams, lakes reservoirs and many other types of surface waters.
How do i know there is no Cryptosporidium in my bottled water?
For starters, bottled water companies are required to use approved sources.
There are two types of sources from which bottled water can be drawn: the first type is natural sources (ie. springs and wells). By law, these sources must be protected from surface intrusion and other environmental influences. This requirement ensures that surface water contaminants such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia are not present.
The second source water type is approved potable municipal supplies. Bottled water companies that use these sources reprocess the water using methods such as distillation, reverse osmosis, de-ionisation and filtration. This ensures the finished product is very different, in both composition and taste, from the original source water.
All ABWI member companies that use municipal supplies are encouraged to employ at least one of three processing methods for effective removal of microbial (surface water) contaminants including Cryptosporidium. These processing methods are reverse osmosis, one-micron absolute filtration and distillation. Ozonation may also prove to be an effective treatment for Cryptosporidium removal.
What is the proper way to store bottled water?
Bottled water should be stored in a cool (ie. room temperature), dry environment away from chemicals such as household cleaning products and away from solvents such as gasoline, paint thinners and other toxic material.
Multi-barrier practices ensure bottled water quality
Bottled water is protected by a multi-barrier approach, which may include steps such as source protection, source monitoring, reverse osmosis, micron filtration, distillation, ozonation and final disinfection. All members of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI), which represents 85 percent of the bottled water sold in Australia., employ such practices to ensure bottled water quality. In addition, as a requirement of membership, all ABWI bottler members must adhere to the association's quality assurance program.
Many bottled waters come from natural sources like springs or wells originating from deep within the earth. These protected sources are inspected, tested and certified by the state or country of origin to be of sanitary quality. These bottled waters do not come from surface water sources where certain types of organisms, such as cryptosporidium, are found.
Bottled water may also come from treated municipal supplies. All ABWI member companies using municipal sources employ processing methods, such as reverse osmosis, micron filtration, distillation and/or ozonation to remove chemical and microbiological contaminants, including cryptosporidium and to ensure the water is of high quality.
ABWI member companies employ combinations of the following multi-barrier practices:
- Source protection/source monitoring: Protected underground sources, such as springs and wells, are inspected, tested and certified by the state or country of origin to be of sanitary quality and void of surface water influence.
- Reverse osmosis: Using this process, water is forced under pressure through membranes, which remove virtually all dissolved minerals.
- Ozonation: Ozonation is a disinfection process using ozone gas, a form of oxygen, instead of chlorine. Ozone is an effective water disinfectant, which does not leave a residual taste, colour or odour to water.
- Micron filtration: Extremely fine filtration removes most types of particles or contaminants.
- Distillation: The water is first vaporised. Because most dissolved minerals are too heavy to be vaporised, they are left behind. The water, free of dissolved minerals, is then condensed.
- Testing: All bottled water companies are required to test both source water and finished product for the following:
- organics, such as pesticides, herbicides and volatile organic compounds
- inorganics which are minerals present in water such as lead, copper, zinc, chloride
- microbiological contaminants, such as coliform
- radiologicals, such as radionuclides
- physical properties, such as turbidity, colour
Additional information can be found at the International Bottled Water Association.