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Packaged drinking water no longer a safe bet

The food safety wing has started cracking down on manufacturers of packaged drinking water following reports that most of the products do not meet the specified standards.

State-wide inspections have been initiated to check the sources of potable water being tapped by the manufacturers.

In Kottayam, food safety officials had to call in the police after repeated orders from the officials to lock down and seal drinking water sources were resisted by the manufacturers.

“We found many of the potable water sources being tapped by these companies were poor in quality and unhygienic. In some of the so-called processing plants which claimed to use processes like reverse osmosis or ultraviolet filtration to purify water, these processes were not working. We tested two samples of packaged water and found several issues like low PH levels, presence of nitrite and e-Coli bacterial contamination,” a senior official said.

In fact, many local companies were supplying filtered water collected from home-based wells and packed in sealed containers and not really processed or treated water. Though the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has fixed standards for packaged drinking water, most of the companies were selling water without the mandatory BIS certification, he said.

The Food Safety Department has no clear idea as to how many packaged drinking water companies are operating in the State. “Consumers should ensure that the bottle of packaged drinking water they buy has an ISI mark, especially if the brand is an unfamiliar one. The bottle should be shaken and held upside down to see if there are any floating sediments. The seal of the bottle should be checked too,” K. Gopakumar, Research Officer, Food Safety wing, said.

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