The bottled water facts that appear on this webpage are supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). Links to related bottled water regulations are provided, for additional information.
The FDA has established set regulations that all bottled water companies must follow to ensure bottled water quality remains healthy and safe to drink.
The Federal bottled water regulations set by the FDA are as stringent as those established by the EPA for tap water, if not more so. Any differences are usually the result of a regulated substance not being found in bottled water, or a regulation already existing under another FDA provision that applies to bottled water.
For example: Because lead can leach from pipes into municipal water as it travels into homes, the EPA has set the limit for lead in water at 15ppb (parts per billion). Since lead pipes aren't used in the production of bottled water, the FDA has set the limit for lead in bottled water at 5ppb (parts per billion).
FDA bottled water regulations require bottled water companies to regularly sample and analyze their water. Samples must be found to be safe and sanitary. The FDA also monitors bottled water plant and equipment design, bottling procedures and record keeping. Bottled water companies must pass regular inspections by the FDA as part of its food safety program, and some states require bottled water companies to obtain an annual license.
Courts have long held that if any component used in the manufacturing of a product crosses state lines (i.e., the plastic used to make the bottles, the paper or ink used for printing labels, etc.), the FDA has jurisdiction over the entire final product, regardless of whether the product itself actually crosses state lines.
In the case of bottled water, either the packaging materials or the water itself, almost always come from out of state, making it subject to FDA regulations. Congress has even enacted a law presuming that all food and beverage products are subject to interstate commerce regulations. As such, almost all bottled water falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA. Learn more about State bottled water facts and regulations.
The source water used for bottling may come from a municipality; however, this water is ultimately treated and filtered by the bottled water company to achieve high levels of purity prior to being packaged and sold. Water must be treated through reverse osmosis, distillation, deionization, or another suitable process to meet standards that allow it to be labeled as purified water.
Bottled water falls under the classification of a food product and must therefore meet extensive labeling requirements. This includes listing the type of water packaged in the bottle. Knowing the type of water will give you a good idea of the source the water came from. There are four main types of bottled water:
Bottled water labels also include a way for consumers to contact the bottled water company to get additional answers to questions about the specific water source used, treatment methods, and water quality information.
Pollution is always a concern, and the bottled water industry continually works towards reducing its impact on the environment. Since 2000, the average weight of a half-liter plastic water bottled has been reduced by 47.7%, and plastic water bottles are the most frequently recycled PET beverage container in curbside recycling programs. Source: IBWA.
Learn more about the importance of recycling plastics.