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Wide Variety of Bottled Water Products on the Market

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February 2003
Wide Variety of Bottled Water Products on the Market

Bottled water continues to surge as a product of choice among consumers seeking to quench their thirst. In 2001, U.S. consumers purchased 5 billion gallons according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) -- that's about 17 gallons for every man, woman and child in the United States. The sales growth of bottled water far outpaces that of any other bottled beverage and is now a $7 billion per year industry in the United States.

Clearly, people want the convenience, quality and consistency that bottled water provides and are willing to pay for this premium product. But what are consumers buying inside those plastic cylinders? And what are beverage producers and regulating bodies doing to help keep a safe, consistent product flowing to thirsty customers?

Some people believe that bottled water is nothing more than tap water with a cap on it. However, this is far from the truth as there are specific regulations that distinguish among different types of bottled water. Before buying bottled water, you should know what you're paying for.

'Through efforts by the water treatment industry, bottled water companies have incorporated such technologies as reverse osmosis and ozone treatment into their processes,' says Craig Beckman, process water systems business manager for Osmonics, a Minneapolis company that has specialized in water treatment systems for industry and consumers for more than 30 years. 'These technologies ensure that consumers are getting a safe, high-quality product, and help water bottlers keep up with consumer demand and stringent regulations.'

Battling Bottles:

The FDA Sorts It Out

Within the non-carbonated bottled water market there are two primary products: spring water and purified water. These two products account for the majority of the industry's sales and consumption. Also included in this market are bottled artesian, drinking and mineral waters, but they only represent a small percentage of sales.

With so many types of water on the shelves, how do you know exactly what you are getting? Fortunately for American consumers, bottled water is a regulated food product. Local public health departments, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), oversee the packaging and labeling of bottled water products in the United States. The FDA carefully regulates the statements that producers put on bottled water labels and prohibits deceptive or misleading labeling.

While the FDA does a good job of monitoring label content, the average consumer is generally unaware of what constitutes the water in that bottle. To help define bottled waters on the market, the FDA has definitions for the various water types:

Artesian water: Water from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand) in which the water level is above the top of the aquifer.

Drinking water: Water that is sold for human consumption in sanitary containers and contains no added sweeteners or chemical additives. It must be calorie-free and sugar-free.

Mineral water: Water that has a level and constant proportion of minerals and trace elements that are naturally occurring from the source and cannot be added.

Purified water: Water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other processes and that meets the definition of purified water in the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) 23.

Spring Water: Water derived from an underground source that flows naturally to the surface of the earth. Generally, spring water goes through a treatment process such as filtration or ozonization (in which ozone is added to disinfect it) when bottled

Courtesy of ARA Content


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