Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Beware of bottled water

packaged drinking water may not be as safe and pure as you think it is. When water bottles or containers are exposed to direct sunlight or kept in warm conditions, the micro organisms present in the water are activated, making it unsuitable for consumption.

Annapoorni, a public food analyst with the government of Puducherry says, "When bottled water is not stored according to the standard instructions mentioned on its label, which has been developed by the ISI, its shelf life is reduced and it becomes unfit for consumption as it is no longer pure."

An expert from the public health department of Tamil Nadu, who refused to disclose his name says, "It is better to boil water to kill micro organisms which grow when exposed to the atmosphere. Bottled water is passed through various tests and processes to get rid of these microbes. Microbes are less likely to develop even when exposed to sunlight, provided the water is completely free of micro organisms."

But is bottled drinking water 100 per cent free of these micro organisms? Although precautions are taken to ensure the safety of water in the production processes with UV treatments and ozonisation (which help to reduce the microbe levels in the water), the water is not completely rid of it.

Sashirekha, joint director, Bureau of Indian Standards, explains, "The ISI ensures that companies carry out the requisite processes until the very final stage before the water is packed and distributed. Despite this, a minor percentage of microbes still remains in the water, which does not affect the health and is considered to be of an acceptable standard."

She adds that when these bottles are exposed to sunlight, the heat triggers the growth of these aerobic microbes. It is for this that instructions like "store in a cool, dry place" and "best before date" are given, indicating the shelf life of the water.

But unaware of this fact, shopkeepers tend to store bottles in such a manner that they are exposed to direct sunlight. Gunasekaran, the owner of a tea stall that sells bottled water, explains, "Many people do not prefer cold water, especially during the winter season, so I store them outside." When asked about the precautions mentioned on the bottle, he explained that he wasn’t aware of any such thing, as he can’t read English. When this newspaper contacted major companies selling bottled drinking water like Kinley and Aquafina, they declined to comment.


rita said...

yes bottled water can be toxic
and if you live in the USA
a certain amount of feces is
allowable....meaning we are what
literally full of shit!
I like your writing