New FDA Bottled Water Rules Aim to Combat E. Coli
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule that requires bottled water manufacturers to face stricter standards to prevent E. coli contamination . All manufacturers are currently required to test source water for germs each week, but starting December 1, 2009, if tests prove positive for E. coli, companies must explain in writing how they eliminated the bacteria and retest samples before use.
FDA states that “bottled water containing E. coli will be considered adulterated and source water containing E. coli will not be considered to be of a safe, sanitary quality and will be prohibited from use in the production of bottled water.” E. coli infection indicates fecal contamination that can apparently cause stomach cramps, diarrhea or possible fatal infections.
Although bottled water is currently tested for coliforms–a group of mostly harmless bacteria–and fecal contamination, the new rules require the water source itself to be tested. The new rules were reportedly developed to meet the 2006 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for public drinking water. FDA said the 19 responses to its proposals from trade associations, industry, a law firm, an environmental advocacy organization, and consumers generally supported the rule. See FoodNavigator-USA.com, May 28, 2009; Federal Register, May 29, 2009.