Safety and Quality Control
To ensure that all their bottled water is as safe as possible, and of the highest quality, all ABWI members use one or more of the following practises detailed below: source protection and monitoring, reverse osmosis, distillation, filtration, ozonation and disinfection.
Source protection/source monitoring: Protected underground sources, such as springs and wells, are inspected, tested, and certified by the state or country of origin to be of sanitary quality and void of surface water influence.
Reverse osmosis: Using this process, water is forced under pressure through membranes, which remove virtually all dissolved minerals.
Ozonation: Ozonation is a disinfection process using ozone gas, a form of oxygen, instead of chlorine. Ozone is an effective water disinfectant, which does not leave a residual taste, colour or odour to water.
Micron filtration: Extremely fine filtration removes most types of particles or contaminants.
Distillation: The water is first vaporised. Because most dissolved minerals are too heavy to be vaporised, they are left behind. The water, free of dissolved minerals, is then condensed.
All members of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI), which represents 85 percent of the bottled water sold in Australia, employ such practices to ensure bottled water quality. In addition, as a requirement of membership, all ABWI bottler members must adhere to the association’s quality assurance program.
Consumers can trust that bottled water is safe for many reasons. The first is that bottled water is strictly regulated by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Food Standards Code. These regulations ensure that all bottled water sold in Australia meets stringent standards. In addition members of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) who produce the majority of the bottled water in Australia, must additionally meet the strict industry standards established by the association. These standards contained in the ABWI “Model Code” exceed the FSANZ regulations currently in place for bottled water. Further, all bottled water companies are required to test both source water and finished product for the following:
- organics, such as pesticides, herbicides and volatile organic compounds
- inorganics which are minerals present in water such as lead, copper, zinc, chloride
- icrobiological contaminants, such as coliform
- radiologicals, such as radionuclides
- physical properties, such as turbidity, colour
It has been discussed in the media that certain tap waters may be at risk to contain Cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium is a waterborne parasite that lives in animals and can be passed into the water through their waste. Cryptosporidium occysts from animal wastes have been found in rivers, streams, lakes reservoirs and many other types of surface waters
Consumers can be assured that there is no cryptosporidium within a bottled water product. There are two types of sources from which bottled water can be drawn: the first type is natural sources (ie. springs and wells). By law, these sources must be protected from surface intrusion and other environmental influences. This requirement ensures that surface water contaminants such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia are not present.
The second source water type is approved potable municipal supplies. All ABWI member companies that use municipal supplies are encouraged to employ at least one of three processing methods for effective removal of microbial (surface water) contaminants including Cryptosporidium. These processing methods are reverse osmosis, one-micron absolute filtration and distillation. Ozonation may also prove to be an effective treatment for Cryptosporidium removal.