Tougher bottled water standards proposed in Ontario

"Aquathin OP-ED Commentary"

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Tougher bottled water standards proposed in Ontario

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO — Proposed legislation here is seeking stricter standards on bottled water that would likely result in higher costs for consumers. 

The Mississauga News reported that Margaret Marland, legislative assembly representative, said the need for stiffer monitoring and testing of Canadian bottled water is crucial since bottled water consumption has increased 45 percent in the last three years.

"Ever since the Walkerton tragedy, the public firmly believes it is safer to drink bottled water than it is to drink tap water,"  Marland said, according to the newspaper. "But there is a complete absence of Ontario standards for bottled water."  If passed, the bill would give the province authority to prescribe standards, similar to those for tap water, to bottled water, including:

Detailed parameters for chemical and radiological contaminants in bottled water.

Forbidding the selling of bottled water unless that water meets provincial standards.

Analysis of bottled water ground sources and conditions resulting from natural run-off through aquifers.

Health Canada said no waterborne disease outbreaks have ever been associated with drinking bottled water in Canada, the newspaper said.

"We can't sit around and wait for something to happen," said Marland in the article. "If we should ever experience a tragedy like Walkerton from the consumption of bottled water, the province will surely be to blame again."

But the bottled water industry is concerned.  "The bottled water industry will be asked to borne the costs of the rigorous testing, so an increase is logical," said Elizabeth Griswold, executive director of the Canadian Bottled Water Association (CBWA), in the article. "It will probably mean some smaller companies will go out of business."

There are nearly 70 bottled water companies in Ontario alone, including big names like Culligan and Aberfoyle Springs, the article said.

Griswold said CBWA testing on bottled water is even stricter than Health Canada, and the bottled water industry already endures regular enforcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the newspaper reported. But if the Province feels it necessary to regulate bottled water to ensure it's safe to drink, "we'll happily co-operate," she told the newspaper.


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Edited from Tech Bank 10/25/02