Food Safety Water Bottle

Published on June 5th, 2009 | by Gina Munsey

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Food Policy Friday: FDA to Conform to EPA Standards for E.Coli in Bottled Water

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Water BottleDrinking water poses a threat due to possible perchlorate contamination and BPA leaching from plastic, but it seems reasonable to assume that in the United States, bottled water is free from fecal matter.  Yet until now, there were no requirements to test source water — 70% of which comes from the the same place as tap water.

Beginning December 1st, “bottled water containing E. coli will be considered adulterated,” says the US Food and Drug Administration.  You don’t say?  It doesn’t seem as though we’d need a press release to tell us that, but this is the FDA we’re talking about.

The new FDA ruling will mandate producers to test all source water for the presence of fecal cloriforms — in plain English, animal or human waste.  Bottled water already undergoes such tests, but now, if source water is found to be contaminated, it will be “prohibited from use in the production of bottled water.”

Zero tolerance for the presence of E. Coli bacteria in drinking water is not a new concept.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water Standards established such guidelines in 2006 — but it’s taken the FDA three years to get on board. Perhaps that’s because they’ve been too busy accusing Cheerios of being a drug.

Image via MisterWindupBird on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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About the Author

Gina was born in Mexico, but spent her early childhood years in Eastern Europe. She gained her Associate and Bachelor degrees from schools in California and Michigan, respectively, and was mostly recently employed in the Business Systems field in California. Diagnosed with a corn allergy in her early twenties, Gina has taken on the challenge of living corn-free -- as well as dairy, wheat, and gluten-free -- in a corn-saturated world. She currently lives in beautiful Northern California. Gina loves her husband, watering her plants, writing poetry and blog posts, creating collages, browsing art galleries, eliminating toxic chemicals, reading the Bible, doing laundry, reading cookbooks and substituting ingredients in recipes, collecting broken shells from the beach, repurposing everyday objects, and watching curtains dance over open windows. Follow her on Twitter @gmunsey.



  • Breck Speed

    Wow! Misinformation galore! The new FDA stanard is for zero tolerance for fecal bacteria in bottled water. Tap water does not have this standard from the EPA which allows for occasional “spikes” of contamination.

    An perchlorate comes from jet fuel contamination of surface water – not plastic bottles.

    You gotta do some research . . .

  • Gina Munsey

    “The new FDA standard is for zero tolerance for fecal bacteria in bottled water. Tap water does not have this standard from the EPA which allows for occasional “spikes” of contamination.”

    Actually, the EPA does have a zero tolerance policy for fecal bacteria in drinking water. Page 11 of the 2006 Edition of the Drinking Water Standards clearly states, “No fecal cloriforms allowed.” The spikes of contamination you refer to are the 5% allowable samples containing cloriforms — but not fecal cloriforms.

    Regarding perchlorate — yes, I am aware that perchlorate does not come from plastic.

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