Bottling Water in Central Minnesota: Restrictions and Regulations

Processing, bottling, retaining, and transporting bottled water in sanitary conditions is essential to protect water sources from bacteria, chemicals, and other contaminants. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water in public water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regularly tests public tap water to ensure its safety. The EPA requires that the results of these tests be made available to the public and that information be made public about the possible health effects of contaminants in drinking water, the source of the water, and regulatory compliance. Bottled water is regulated as a food product by the FDA.

The FDA does not require bottled water companies to use certified laboratories to test water quality or to report test results. However, they do require that bottled water labels include ingredients and nutritional information. Bottled water comes from a variety of sources, including many of the same sources as tap water. Sometimes the water that can be bought in a bottle is simply public tap water that has been improved in some way, for example by changing the mineral content.

Other sources of bottled water include springs, wells, and surface water. Bottled water labels must comply with legal requirements. There are labeling requirements for the source, content, quality and uses of water. It is especially important to use bottled water to mix infant formula or give water to babies under one year old. Bottled water may also be the best option if a person has a health condition that requires lower levels of a substance.

Consult your doctor for advice if bottled water is right for you. Fluoride is an essential component in reducing tooth decay and improving oral health. In Minnesota, tap water in municipal public water systems almost always contains fluoride. Conversely, bottled water may not contain fluoride, or if it does, it may not be at an optimal level. If you buy bottled water, it's important to find out how much fluoride, if any, in the water.

Some companies add fluoride to their products, and the amount must be included on the label. If fluoride occurs naturally in water, the label does not have to include information about fluoride. Contact the bottling company to find out how much fluoride their product contains. MDH does not recommend reusing single-use plastic bottles as they can be contaminated with bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. Empty bottles must be recycled to reduce the amount of garbage in our landfills.

The FDA considers bottled water to have an unlimited shelf life if it is produced correctly and not opened. Bottled water companies may choose to add a date to the bottle because of concerns about taste and smell, not because of safety. Bottled water should be stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight. The employer shall clearly mark non-potable water supplies and outlets as unsafe for health or personal use. Water bottles and glasses are stored in a way that reduces the risk of a child using the wrong bottle or cup of water; and every day the bottle or glass of water is used, the child care center cleans and disinfects the bottle or glass of water using procedures that comply with the Food Code under the Minnesota Rules, Chapter 4626. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established current good manufacturing practices (CGMP) specifically for bottled water.

A bottle or cup of water is assigned to a specific child and labeled with the child's first and last name; if fecal matter enters the pool water, add three times the normal shock treatment to raise chlorine levels to at least 20 parts per million and close the pool for swimming for 24 hours after fecal matter enters or until pH levels return to standards specified in clause (whichever happens later).For more information on local tap water safety, search for your local water quality report on our Consumer Confidence Reports webpage.