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International Bottled Water Association applauds federal bottled water consumer information legislation

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA, applauds federal legislation introduced today by Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Representative Jim Matheson (D-UT), and Representative Richard Nugent (R-FL) that would provide consumers with uniform information about the quality and safety of their bottled water products.

“When it comes to packaged beverages, more and more people are choosing bottled water. In fact, bottled water is predicted to be the number one packaged beverage sold in the U.S. by 2020. The ‘Bottled Water Quality Information Act’ (H.R. 4978) introduced by Representatives Ellmers, Matheson, and Nugent would make it easier for consumers to obtain clear, consistent, and comprehensive information about the bottled water products they buy,” says IBWA president and CEO Joe Doss. “National uniform labeling and bottled water quality reporting standards are good for consumers and build on the extensive product information already provided by bottlers. This important legislation codifies the bottled water industry’s current efforts to ensure transparency and continues our commitment to have the highest quality standards,” he adds.

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), approximately 31% of what Americans drink is water. Of that, more than 50% is bottled water. Bottled water labels are already required to provide consumers with information such as the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor and a statement of identity that defines the type of bottled water product. And, virtually all bottled water products already include a telephone number or website address on the label for consumers to use if they wish to obtain additional information about the product.

The Bottled Water Quality Information Act requires bottled water producers to annually prepare, and make available upon request, a bottled water quality report. The report would include the type of water source; treatment methods used by the bottler; and test results for the microbiological, physical, chemical, and radiological quality of bottled water, as prescribed by federal regulations.

The legislation also requires each bottled water label to include the name and contact information of the bottled water manufacturer or distributor, the type of water source (e.g., spring, artesian, well, public water system), and a statement on how consumers may obtain the bottled water quality report.

“Uniform standards will provide bottled water producers and distributors with a more reliable environment in which to grow their businesses and give consumers consistent product information. They will also ensure that the bottled water industry will continue our tradition of quickly responding during times of emergency, without the risk of being slowed by contradictory state labeling requirements,” says Doss.

Bottled water is comprehensively regulated by the FDA as a packaged food product. By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for public water systems. And, in some very important cases like lead, coliform bacteria, and E. coli, bottled water regulations are more stringent.

All packaged foods and beverages, including bottled water, are subject to extensive FDA labeling requirements. However, there is limited space available on bottled water labels due to existing extensive federal label requirements, as well as a continuing movement to have smaller, more environmentally friendly labels and packaging. A uniform, federal labeling standard will ensure that label space is efficiently utilized and that the information provided to consumers is consistent across all markets.

 “This federal legislation further establishes our industry as being focused on our customers. It will also prevent the emergence of a patchwork quilt of confusing state and local labeling requirements. The bill is a win-win for consumers and the industry, and we call on the House of Representatives to quickly pass this important legislation,” states Doss. 

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