HISTORY OF BOTTLED WATER
Natural mineral and spring waters have been enjoyed and highly recognised for their purity for hundreds of years. Natural springs were also considered magical for their therapeutic and healing powers. According to archaeological studies, it is found that many offerings were thrown into pure water springs as sacrifices for rebirth, regeneration and fertility.
It was Roman Legacy who recognised the benefits of spring water which they had used for drinking and bathing purposes. By 18th century which was an era of limited disease prevention, spring or natural mineral waters were considered as important means of healing and thermal resorts were regarded as favourite destinations for wealthy.
With the success of thermal resorts, people sought to have these medicinal waters to cure their ailments and continue benefiting from their therapeutic properties.
In the mid-16th century, bottling and commercialisation first began in Europe from Spa in Belgium, from Vichy in France, from Ferrarelle in Italy and Apollinaris in Germany. First mechanical corking machine was invented in 1840 in France. Following that bottling plants were emerged throughout Europe in late 19th century. England’s first bottled water in 1851, Germany’s Apollinaris in 1892 and Italian Mineral water, San Pellegrino in 1899 and later in pharmacies bottled water were sold as medical treatment until 20th century.
By the end of Second World War, bottled water began to be served in cafes, restaurants as a beverage and became more widely distributed through grocery stores. Today, bottled water is easily available in wide range of formats and packaging materials.
BOTTLED WATER REGULATION
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the EPA standards for tap water regulates the safety of bottled water. If all the standards are met, water is considered healthy and safe for most individuals. The bottled water industry must follow FDA’s regulations and practices for processing and bottling of bottling water.
There are regulations that primarily focused on bottled water, including:-
- “Standard of Identity”- defines types of bottled water
- “Standard of Quality”- defines and that sets maximum level of contaminants
- “Current good manufacturing practice”(CGMP)- defines that bottled water must be safe to drink and produced under hygienic/sanitary conditions
Due to increase in water pollution, it is difficult to trust the purity of water. As per the new guidelines, companies must write, “Packaged Drinking Water” instead of, “Packaged Natural Drinking Water”. New Amendments had been made by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards and Regulations) according to which water must contain calcium and magnesium of at least 20-75mg/litre in the range of 10-30mg/litre w.e.f. 1st Jan’21. This will create a new level playing field along with better consumer value. The water taste may slightly different due to addition of these mineral proportions. It is majorly mineral content which is behind the different tastes of water consumed in different areas of India. These minerals are good for health and therefore NGT (National Green Tribunal) has advised FSSAI to explore the opportunities to add such minerals in packaged drinking water. According to NGT, minerals should be removed during the process of filtration of water and they should be added again for the health benefits of consumers. According to sources of FSSAI bottled water industry is ready to implement these changes and also received appreciation from concerned representatives. It is also equally important that consumer must be aware of the fact that minerals must be added in packaged drinking water as regulated by FSSAI.