Is Bottled Water Regulated by the FDA? - An Expert's Perspective

Consumers drink billions of gallons of bottled water every year, and it's essential to understand that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating bottled water products and ensuring that they are safe to consume. The FDA safeguards consumers through the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), which holds manufacturers accountable for producing safe, healthy, and truthfully labeled food products. The FDA defines bottled water as water intended for human consumption and sealed in bottles or other containers with no added ingredients, except that it may contain safe and suitable antimicrobial agents. Fluoride can also be added within the limits established by the FDA.

Bottled water can be used as an ingredient in beverages, such as diluted juices or flavored bottled waters. However, beverages labeled “sparkling water”, “seltzer”, “tonic water” or “soda” are not included as bottled water under FDA regulations. Instead, these drinks are considered soft drinks. The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 granted regulatory oversight of public drinking water to the U. S., and subsequently, the FDA took responsibility for ensuring that bottled water quality standards are compatible with EPA standards for public drinking water.

Every time the EPA sets a standard for a contaminant, the FDA adopts it for bottled water or determines that the standard is not necessary for bottled water. In some cases, the standards for bottled water and for public drinking water differ. The FDA oversees bottling plant inspections and requires that bottlers follow CGMP regulations that are specific to the processing and bottling of drinking water. These regulations also require proper plant and equipment design, bottling procedures, and record keeping. In addition, the FDA requires that bottled water labels include ingredients and nutritional information. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water (also known as municipal water or public drinking water).

Furthermore, local FDA offices follow up on consumer and business complaints and other leads about bottled water products that may violate regulations. It's important to note that the FDA does not require bottled water companies to use certified laboratories to test water quality or to report test results. The name of a product with added ingredients must include the added ingredient, such as “bottled water with added minerals” or “raspberry-flavored bottled water”.In conclusion, it is clear that the FDA plays an essential role in regulating bottled water products to ensure their safety for human consumption. The FDA oversees bottling plant inspections and requires manufacturers to adhere to CGMP regulations specific to processing and bottling drinking water. Additionally, local FDA offices investigate consumer complaints about potential violations of regulations.

Consumers can rest assured that their safety is a priority when it comes to consuming bottled water.