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1st July 2010.  NSAI, in conjunction with the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland), has launched a revised standard for bottled (or packaged) water to reflect recent changes in European and national legislation on food hygiene and traceability requirements. The revised standard provides manufacturers of bottled water with specific requirements to assure the safety of bottled water for the consumer, in addition to providing best practice guidelines on the development and management of suitable sources for the three classes of packaged groundwater namely, natural mineral water, spring water or other groundwater.
Speaking at the launch of the revised standard, Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI, said, “The Irish consumer spends more than €190 million on 180 million litres of bottled water annually.  Packagers of natural mineral water products are very aware of the importance of a good source of ground water and it is crucial they ensure that the source of that water does not become contaminated in any way. This standard provides guidance on how to protect a ground water source during its development and use and will assist industry in ensuring consistent safety and quality for the consumer.”

The standard, I.S. 432:2010 Packaged Groundwater, was prepared by the specialist working group of the Food Industry Standards Committee of NSAI, the FSAI, the Bottled Water Association (an association within the Beverage Council of Ireland) and the HSE. It applies to Irish ground water in sealed containers where the water is piped directly from the source to the packaging facility and the water is distributed or sold for human consumption.  The types of permitted treatment, the quality criteria and the labeling requirements for the three classes of groundwater are specified in the revised standard.

Prof Alan Reilly, CEO, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, said “The FSAI welcomes the revisions to this standard.  The revised standard will be of great benefit to producers of bottled water, as the scope has been extended to cover not just the protection and management of the water source, but it also covers all the hygiene, process control and traceability requirements. We encourage producers of packaged ground water to use the Standard as a guide to compliance with food safety requirements for their operations. The standard will serve as a very practical guide for bottled water producers to meet the legal requirements of food law and, thus ensuring a safe product for consumers.”

With the dramatic increase in bottle water sales in the Galway region due to the water crisis in recent times, this standard aims at giving the consumer greater confidence in the bottled water they consume.  NSAI is the authority responsible for assessing and declaring a volume of water to be a natural mineral water. There are 26 packagers of ground water in Ireland and currently four products have been assessed by NSAI against the requirements of the standard.  This standard will be notified to the European Commission as a recognised guide to good practice in Ireland and the FSAI will be recommending it to the industry.

Bernard Murphy, Executive Director of the Beverage Council of Ireland, added, "Bottled water is an integral part of our daily life and as such offers a range of benefits such as convenience, accessibility, on-the-go rehydration and most importantly quality assurance and consistency. Ireland takes its bottled water very seriously and in addition to EU and national legislation governing all aspects from source to consumer, the Irish bottled water industry is signed up to an extremely comprehensive set of standards drawn up in conjunction with NSAI and FSAI. These extremely high standards are unique within Europe and testament to the industry’s commitment to ensuring the highest levels of quality and safety for the consumer".

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