Goverment of Zimbabwe has banned 40 water bottling firms for failing to meet safety and quality standards. This follows an influx of bottled water suppliers in response to a surge in demand. Acting Secretary for Health and Child Welfare Dr Davis Dhlakama said only nine firms were authorised to sell mineral and bottled water.
“To date, 49 potential bottlers submitted their water for testing and possible certification. Out of these, nine were advised that their water was suitable for bottling. The other 40 were advised that their water was not suitable for bottling for various reasons including contamination, unsuitable packaging and wrong labelling. They were barred from selling the water,” Dr Dhlakama said.
While Dr Dhlakama declined to name firms that were certified to sell water saying the ministry did not have a provision to publish names, private and voluntary standard organisation, Standards Association of Zimbabwe named 12 water bottling firms certified with the national body after independent surveillance. The companies certified by SAZ are Schweppes Zimbabwe Ltd, Tanganda Tea Company Ltd, Century Ice, ZLG, Brackenridge T/A Kanyerere Investment, Reichmark, Aqua Crystal, Chromopak Investments, Somerby, Chilruff T/A Springvale, Mukati Investments and Blester Marketing.
The ministry as provided for by the Public Health Act and the Food and Food Standard Act, delegates powers to municipal authorities to enforce food laws and regulations in their respective areas. The ministry’s surveillance and monitoring programmes for food in general were difficult to implement due to lack of resources under the current economic challenges.
Although only nine companies are approved to deal in water bottling, the market has been flooded with several brands in shops. Some of the companies have premises that do not meet the required minimum basic hygienic requirements, while others are not bottling their water at the source of the water as required. Some were also violating the factory by-laws requirements of municipal authorities.
Investigations have attributed the proliferation of suppliers to the alleged poor quality of tap water and rising health consciousness by the public. Although most suppliers indicate the mineral elements content on the label, the quality of water is not just about mineral elements, but also the microbiological safety of the water, among other quality requirements. (AllAfrica)
Bottled water facts
There is a lot of information available on the Internet regarding bottled water facts, but many are simply misleading. Most companies in this competitive industry will only show you their most positive bottled water statistics, like sales figures and awards. But what is truly important to consumers, like: the source of bottled water, quality, prices, ingredients, safety,environmental waste issues and questionable marketing tactics… are barely discussed.
Bottled drink, on the other hand, is most often disinfected with ozone, which does not leave any after-taste. People often believe that purified bottled water is simply cleaner than tap water. For most major bottled water brands this is true. These brands will often take water from the tap, but will further disinfect it at the bottled water plant, removing much of the material that is present even in high-quality tap municipal source.
There are some, however, that believe the process of packaging water bottles brings about numerous environmental problems. There is some truth to this. In 2008, it took over 50 million barrels of oil just to produce plastic water bottles. These same bottles, for the most part, end up in landfills instead of recycling centers. Also, the use of water bottles is increasing. Studies from 1976 up to 2007, show that, on average, the bottled water consumption increased in the US by some thirty times, from a little over one gallon per person to thirty gallons per person per year.
Many brands (as much as 40%) only contain filtered tap water and a few minerals used for taste enhancements. Other brands add flavors to their drink to give them a unique taste.
Consumers should note, as well, that a few companies also add fluoride to their products. This fluoride-enhanced water is fine for those living in areas where city water is not available, but should not be used when city-treated water, which already contains fluoride, is consumed. This can lead to an overdose of fluoride which can harm teeth, especially in children. Additives are listed on the container, which you should read before purchasing.
Bottle water is rarely truly 100% “pure”. Pure water, also known as “distilled”, has a flat taste which most people do not like. Some brands will add certain minerals to their water in order to enhance the taste of the product. Many sources contain small amounts of fluoride naturally. The amount is usually very low. A typical bottled water factory will add fluoride to its supply and advertise it as such. If fluoride is added it must be stated so on the label.
Sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate are two popular additives that are often found in bottled water. Magnesium and calcium are often added as well. For some brands, but not for all, oxygen and fluoride are added. Also, certain flavors may be added to enhance taste and give consumers more flavorful options. Here is the list of common additives along with mix proportion statistics. (WaterClue)
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