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May 08

FDA Explains its Regulation of Bottled Water

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) published “Food Facts”, a document providing the public with information concerning the Agency’s regulation of bottled water. Found here, the document details how the Agency works in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to ensure that drinking water is safe. While the EPA is primarily responsible for the nation’s tap water, the FDA is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing bottled water.

The regulation of bottled water may be broken into two main areas: CGMPs and labeling. Current Good Manufacturing Practices (“CGMPs”) are the particular guidelines that producers of most FDA-regulated products must adhere to in the manufacture of their products. Particularly applicable to bottled water products, these guidelines require that bottled water be processed under sanitary conditions, and among other things, that producers test the source water and final product to ensure the water is safe and free from contaminants.

In addition to CGMP requirements, bottled water producers and distributors must comply with the FDA’s various labeling regulations. Depending on the particular water being sold, bottled water labels must contain certain declarations to ensure that the public is made aware of what they are drinking. While one might think that water is water, the FDA recognizes several distinct types of waters, including mineral water, spring water, purified water and flavored water. Ultimately, while bottled water appears to be a straightforward product, the FDA’s regulatory oversight in this area is expansive.

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