Bottled Water Regulations
Bottled water quality generally in UK is extremely good. The vast majority of production is retailed through supermarkets, bars and restaurants, fast-food outlets and the leisure industry. The average life span from production to consumption is 3 weeks. The standard quality assurance in the retailing market lies with the producer to ensure all reasonable care is taken to ensure quality compliance, at the point the tamper-evident cap goes on the bottle.
Bottled water is also supplied as an alternative in situations where the piped supply has failed or is not available. This can be domestic housing, an office block, factory, or marathon race, festivals etc. In this situation the consumers do not have a choice of what water they drink and must rely on the provider to ensure the product is quality compliant. In this situation the employer, festival organisers or whoever it is who provides the drinking water is deemed to be responsible for the water quality. They are jointly and severally liable with the manufacturer, should a quality issue arise. As an example, where someone becomes ill and is convinced it is something to do with the water they were provided with, the provider needs to demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to ensure that the water quality complied with the relevant regulation.
Where water is supplied as an alternative to the piped supply, the Water Supply (Water Quality) regulations 2000 as amended, apply. Drinking water supply is regulated by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). The DWI website provides extensive information and guidance on all aspects of water quality together with the up-to-date legislation: www.dwi.gov.uk
Legislation controlling bottled water quality parameters is very similar to that of the water supply regulations. However, the principle difference between the two bodies of legislation is the point at which quality compliance must be proven. Water supply regulations stipulate quality compliance must be demonstrable at the point of consumption, not point of bottling.
Water on the Move maintains an extensive and comprehensive database of historical quality information for all the sources used in production of both the Courtesy label and H2GO label stock supplied. Full testing information can be supplied to back-up and assure the water quality.
Testing at production is largely standardised across the industry with the following tests done within 12 hours on samples of bottles taken from the production line:
- Total viable colony counts done at 22º and 37º C (enumeration of benign background levels of bacteria which exist in treated water).
- E coli and coliforms.
Source water and further testing at production is carried out daily, with a full suite of testing carried out on the source water on at least an annual basis to ensure it conforms to the standards laid out for the required accreditation, ie Natural Mineral water, Spring water or Drinking water.