MYTH It takes 17 million barrels of oil a year to make bottled water bottles
FACT This is an interesting non-verifiable statement typically attributed to researchers at the University of Louisville. Except, according to the school, they have never even heard about it. Our source is University's Director of Media Relations Mark Hebert, who had this to say:“We don’t have anyone who ever wrote about ‘17 million barrels of oil used to make PET water bottles.’ We have no idea where the ‘University of Louisville researchers’ has come from. We’ve asked all our environmental guys, our researchers in the engineering school and nobody has touched that one. The only thing, the closest that we can come, is there was a student last who was trying to get folks on campus to quit using bottled water, but she didn’t have anything like that in her literature that even came close to that statement. So we don’t have clue where it came from, and if you find out, please let us know.”
MYTH Bottled water costs 1,000 times more than tap water.
FACT According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), the average wholesale price per gallon of domestic non-sparkling bottled water was $1.13 in 2010. As a popular retail food product, bottled water is available at many differing price points. Also, according to BMC, consumers most often tend to buy bottled water in bulk from supermarkets or large discount retailers. Bottled water critics tend to cite prices from the most expensive retail outlets they can find - which, according to BMC's research are often the least utilized by the average consumer - and use them as the basis for such dramatic claims.
MYTH FDA standards allow ‘contaminants’ in bottled water not allowed in tap water.
FACT The FDA has also established bottled water Standards of Quality for more than 90 substances [21 C.F.R. § 165.110 (b)]. Most FDA bottled water quality standards are the same as the EPA’s maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for tap water systems. The few differences are usually the result of the substance not being found in bottled water or the substance is regulated under another provision of law such as FDA’s food additives program. Additionally, Section 410 of FFDCA requires the FDA to review all EPA National Primary Drinking Water Standards (NPDWS) for public water systems to determine their applicability to bottled water. If the FDA determines that the NPDWS is applicable to bottled water, it must establish standards of quality for bottled water that are as stringent and protective of public health as the EPA's standards for public drinking water. If the FDA fails to act within 180 days of the effective date of any new EPA NPDWS for public water systems, the FDA must then apply the new NPDWS to bottled water. This section of the FFDCA is commonly known as the "hammer provision."
MYTH Bottled water isn’t as regulated as tap water.
FACT By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be as stringent as the EPA regulations which govern tap water. To suggest in any way that bottled water is less stringently regulated than tap water is simply not true. Bottled water companies produce a safe, healthy, and convenient packaged food product that is comprehensively and stringently regulated by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), 21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq., and applicable sections of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Bottled water must meet the FDA’s general food regulations, as well as standards of identity, standards of quality, good manufacturing practices and labeling requirements specifically promulgated for bottled water. The FDA has issued comprehensive bottled water Standards of Identity, which provide uniform requirements and definitions for the following bottled water classifications: bottled, drinking, artesian, groundwater, distilled, deionized, reverse osmosis, mineral, purified, sparkling, spring, sterile, and well water [21 C.F.R. § 165.110 (a)].
MYTH Bottled water companies are draining water supplies.
FACT According to a 2005 study by the Drinking Water Research Foundation (DWRF), annual bottled water production accounts for less than 2/100 of one percent (0.02%) of the total groundwater withdrawn in the United States each year. Additionally, based on information gathered in the DWRF study, in 2001, 87% of the water withdrawn by bottled water companies, on average, was actually bottled for consumption by humans, so the bottling process is a very efficient one. At 55 billion gallons per day, the largest user of groundwater is the agriculture industry. That amount equals 68% of total groundwater extracted in 2010. The second largest user of groundwater is public drinking supplies, which takes 16 billion gallons per day, or 19% of all U.S. groundwater extraction. Compared to those figures, bottled water barely registers on the radar.
MYTH Bottled water bottles are not safe.
FACT Bottled water containers, as with all food packaging materials, must be made from FDA-approved food contact substances. So, the plastic and glass containers that are used for bottled water products (which are made from the same materials used in other food product containers) have undergone FDA scrutiny prior to being available for use in the market place. The FDA has determined that the containers used by the bottled water industry are safe for use with food and beverage products, including bottled water, and that they do not pose a health risk to consumers. Sometimes, the claim is made that individual retail-sized bottled water bottles contain Bisphenol A (BPA). This is not true; PET plastic, from which these bottles are made, does not contain BPA.
MYTH Most bottled water is just tap water in a bottle.
FACT It is important to note that purified bottled water is not just tap water in a bottle. Once the municipal source water enters the bottled water plant several processes are employed to ensure that it meets the purified or sterile standard of the U.S. Pharmacopeia 23rd Revision. These treatments can include ozonation, reverse osmosis, distillation, or de-ionization. The finished water product is then placed in a bottle under sanitary conditions and sold to the consumer. Some anti-bottled water activists imply that people may be unaware that they are consuming bottled water that is from a municipal water source and has been placed in a bottle without being purified. As stated above, this is not the case. If a bottled water product’s source is a public water system and the finished bottled water product does not meet the FDA Standard of Identity for purified or sterile water, the product label must disclose the public water system source.
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