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Report: Some Bottled Water Not So Pure

Environmental Group Says Some Brands Have Pollutants and Chemicals; Industry Says Products Are Safe

Testing Bottled Water continued...

"The bottled water industry boasts that its internal regulations are stricter than the FDA bottled water regulation, but voluntary standards that companies are failing to meet are of little use in protecting public health," the investigators write.

A spokeswoman for Giant Food Stores tells WebMD that the grocery chain is committed to providing "safe, fresh, wholesome, quality products" to its customers.

"We can say that the production process for our Acadia brand bottled water contains continuous monitoring and numerous safety and quality assurance controls, including a filtration process that assures that the quality of the product meets all regulatory standards," Director of Public and Community Relations Tracy Pawelski notes in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart says the company is "puzzled" by the study's findings and that it regularly tests its water for compliance and quality.

"Both our suppliers' tests and tests from an additional external laboratory are not showing any reportable amounts of chlorine or chlorine by-products," says Shannon Frederick, senior communications manager. "We're disappointed that the EWG has not shared more details with us as we continue to investigate this matter."

Doss says he finds fault with the way the study was conducted.

"The testing results show that only two [samples] didn't meet a California state standard for one regulated substance," Doss says in a statement. "There are many hundreds of brands sold in the United States that are not involved in this study."

He notes that the California requirement is much higher than the FDA standard.

Bottled Water and Regulation

Federal law requires that annual testing of municipal water quality be made available to the public, but there is no such requirement for the bottled water industry.

Naidenko says the fact that the industry is largely self-regulated with little federal oversight is a big part of the problem.

"The industry says it can police itself, but it is not adhering to its own rules," she says.

Doss points out that the EWG has long been critical of its product, but the concerns have largely been environmental, not health related.

The newly released report does urge consumers to choose filtered tap water over bottled water.

"It is unfortunate that certain groups are trying to make this a tap water vs. bottled water issue," he says.

He says the product has been unfairly singled out by environmental groups, and the industry is addressing environmental concerns by using less plastic and more recycled plastic in its packaging.

"We feel very strongly that any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging need to focus on all consumer goods, and not just target one industry," he says.

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