This learning center is dedicated to providing the facts on bottled water safety and federal bottled water regulations within the United States.
Did You Know?
- In 2012, Americans consumed nearly 31 gallons of bottled water per capita. (source: Beverage Marketing Corporation)
- About 98.5% of all bottled water sold in the U.S. is sourced domestically. (source: International Bottled Water Association)
- Federal contaminant regulation levels for tap water and bottled drinking water are the same for approximately 80% of the contaminants regulated by the EPA (tap water) and the FDA (bottled water). (source: Drinking Water Research Foundation)
Learn more fun bottled water facts.
Bottled Water Sanitation Standards:
Federal law requires the FDA to enforce bottled water regulations that are as stringent as the EPA’s standards for tap water. The FDA regards bottled water as a food product, and as such it requires that it be safe to drink. FDA bottled water regulations require that water be processed, stored and shipped under sanitary conditions.
At the bottling facility, the FDA mandates that bottlers enforce sanitation practices that ensure that the final product is free from contamination. The FDA conducts inspections of bottling plants, and tests samples to assess the levels of chemical, bacteriological, microbiological, and radiological contaminants in bottled water products. Bottlers are required to keep source approval and testing records current, and make them available to government inspectors when requested.
Bottled Water Contaminant Levels:
The FDA's standards for quality of bottled water require maximum allowable contaminant levels to be in line with EPA standards for municipal tap water. Each time the EPA establishes a new standard for a contaminant, the FDA either adopts it or finds it doesn’t pertain to bottled water.
In some cases, maximum contaminant levels for bottled water are more stringent that those for tap water. Bottled water products that contain contaminant levels that exceed the FDA standards may not be sold to the public.
Bottled Water Safety:
Bottled drinking water is a safe and convenient packaged food. Provisions within the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ensure that the vast amount of U.S. bottled drinking water is sourced locally and is at least as safe as municipal tap water. The FDA requires that bottlers test their water a minimum frequency of once every week for microbiological contaminants and once every year for chemical and radiological contaminants.
Additional Sources for Research:
International Bottled Water Association: Bottled Water Myths
Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Bottled Water Everywhere: Keeping it Safe
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Bottled Water Basics
Drinking Water Research Foundation (DWRF): Water Regulations