FSSAI has recently published a notification calling for suggestions, views and comments from WTO- SPS Committee members on a draft proposal for amending standards for Packaged Drinking Water within a period of 60 days beginning from 19 January 2016.
The changes have been made in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 in the sub-regulation dealing with Packaged Drinking Water under the regulation on ‘Beverages’.
In the proposed standards the word “natural” has been added to the sub-regulation so it now reads as Packaged Drinking Water (other than Packaged Natural Mineral Water). Packaged water has been defined as water, other than natural mineral water that is likely to be used for human consumption and that is offered or sold in packaged form, by whatever name it may be called, offered or sold.
The FSSAI has also laid down in the draft amendment that the water for packaging can be derived from
- surface water
- civic water supply
- underground water
- sea water
- any other consistent source of water
Those manufacturers who package drinking water will need to pay attention to the following new standards for packed water so that it is totally safe for drinking and does not cause any harm
- The packaged water has to undergo specific treatment like decantation, filtration, combination of filtration, aerations, filtration with membrane filter depth filter, cartridge filter, activated carbon filtration, demineralization, remineralisation, reverse osmosis etc.
- The packaged drinking water must not have a harmful effect and for this the packagers must ensure that the packaged water is fully disinfected by means of chemical agents or physical methods so that the level of microorganisms is below the scientifically accepted level for food safety or its suitability.
- Sea water must be desalinised before it is subject to the above treatments
- The water so treated must be filled into sealed containers of various compositions, forms and capacities which are suitable for direct consumption without the requirement of any other treatment.
- In case remineralisation is a part of the treatment process, the ingredients used in the water will need to conform to food grade/pharma grade quality.
In the new standards the FSSAI has also given a table that specifies the limits of microbiological requirements. Accordingly, cfu/ 250ml of packaged water must be absent of the following microorganisms
- Escherichia coli (or thermotolerant bacteria)
- Coliform bacteria
- Faecal Streptococci, and Staphylococcus aureus
- Sulphite Reducing Anaerobes
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Yeast and mould
- Salmonella and Shigella
- Vibrio cholera, and V. parahaemolyticus
The limits for Aerobic Microbial Count is as follows
At 20-22º C in 72 h, cfu /ml – max100
At 37± 1ºC in 24 h, cfu /ml – max 20
In the proposed standards FSSAI has created 6 tables for packaged water which clearly and distinctly define the limits and parameters of various contaminants like metallic contaminants, alpha emmitters, beta emmitters, substances like copper, zinc, barium, iron etc. to name just a few. Besides being clear of all sediments, suspended particles and extraneous matter packaged drinking water will have to comply with the standards according to the new parameters that have been created by FSSAI in tabular form for
- Organoleptic and physical parameters
- General parameters concerning substances undesirable in excessive amounts
- Parameters concerning toxic substance
- Parameters concerning radio-active residues
- Parameters concerning pesticide residues
The packed drinking water will need to comply with labelling requirements as laid down under the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling), Regulations, 2011.