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Bottled water

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Bottled water regulation

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for tap and public water, while the Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water as a food product[1], while it must meet EPA tap water standards. However, it should be noted that bottled water is not necessarily more pure, or more tested than public, tap water[2] Standards regarding safe public water systems are based on the Safe Water Drinking Act[3]

For more information regarding United States regulation of bottled water production, see Code of Federal Regulations CFR129[4]

Bottled water classifications

Bottled water manufacturers must ensure that their products meet the FDA established standard of identity for bottled water products.[5]. A bottled water product identified under a specific category, such as mineral water, spring water, artesian water, etc., must meet requirements established by the government or be considered misbranded.

Code of Federal Regulations, Section 21, subsection 165.110 defines identity information for categories of bottled water:[6]

  • drinking water - The lowest common denominator of potable water categories, meeting the basic EPA/FDA standards
  • ground water - The name of water from a subsurface saturated zone that is under a pressure equal to or greater than atmospheric pressure.
  • artesian water, also known as artesian well water - The name of water from a well tapping a confined aquifer in

which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer. (Water that will rise above the water table if tapped) Artesian water may be collected with the assistance of external force to enhance the natural underground pressure.

    • How often is "artesian water" tested to meet these standards? The law says there is no mandatory testing, instead: "On request, plants shall demonstrate to appropriate regulatory officials that the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer."[7]
  • mineral water - The name of water containing not less than 250 parts per million (ppm) total dissolved solids (TDS), coming from a source tapped at one or more bore holes or springs, originating from a geologically and physically protected underground water source. Mineral water shall be distinguished from other types of water by its constant level and relative proportions of minerals and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source, due account being taken of the cycles of natural fluctuations. No minerals may be added to this water.
  • purified water - The name of water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or other suitable processes and that meets the definition of "purified water" in the United States Pharmacopeia, 23d Revision, January 1, 1995. Also may be called.
    • Alternatively, the water may be called "deionized water" if the water has been processed by

deionization, "distilled water" if it is produced by distillation, "reverse osmosis water" if the water has been processed by reverse osmosis, and "------ drinking water" with the blank being filled in with one of the defined terms.

  • sparkling water - The name of water that, after treatment and possible replacement of carbon dioxide, contains the same amount of carbon dioxide from the source that it had at emergence from the source.
  • spring water - The name of water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth.
    • Spring water shall be collected only at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring. There shall be a natural force causing the water to flow to the surface through a natural orifice. The location of the spring shall be identified.


  1. . http://www.epa.gov/safewater/sdwa/30th/factsheets/standard.html, Federal Food, Drug,and Cosmetic Act ("FFDCA" or the "Act"), 21 U.S.C. § 301et seq.
  2. . EPA Frequently asked questions about water, http://www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/faq.html
  3. . Safe Water Drinking Act, http://www.epa.gov/safewater/sdwa/index.html
  4. . http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/FCF129.html
  5. . 21 C.F.R. § 165.110(a)
  6. . 21 C.F.R. § 165.110, http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/FCF165.html
  7. . 21 C.F.R. § 165.110(i)

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