FDA Regulates the Safety of Bottled Water Beverages Including Flavored Water and Nutrient-Added Water Beverages

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are both responsible for the safety of drinking water. EPA regulates public drinking water (tap water), while FDA regulates bottled drinking water. 

FDA has set Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) specifically for bottled water. They require bottled water producers to:FDA Inspector's badge

  • Process, bottle, hold and transport bottled water under sanitary conditions;
  • Protect water sources from bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants;
  • Use quality control processes to ensure the bacteriological and chemical safety of the water;
  • Sample and test both source water and the final product for contaminants.

FDA monitors and inspects bottled water products and processing plants under its food safety program. When FDA inspects plants, the Agency verifies that the plant's product water and operational water supply are obtained from an approved source; inspects washing and sanitizing procedures; inspects bottling operations; and determines whether the companies analyze their source water and product water for contaminants.

Americans like bottled water. According to the International Bottled Water Association, bottled water was the second most popular beverage in the U.S. in 2005, with Americans consuming more than 7.5 million gallons of bottled water - an average of 26 gallons per person. Today, only carbonated soft drinks out-sell bottled water.

Defining "Bottled Water"Boy holding a bottle of water standing in front of an open refrigerator filled with bottled water

Under FDA labeling rules, bottled water includes products labeled:

  • Bottled water
  • Drinking water
  • Artesian water
  • Mineral water
  • Sparkling bottled water
  • Spring water
  • Purified water
    • distilled
    • demineralized
    • deionized 
    • reverse osmosis water

Waters with added carbonation, soda water (or club soda), tonic water and seltzer historically are regulated by FDA as soft drinks.

Flavored Water and Nutrient-Added Water Beverages

New types of flavored and/or nutrient-added water beverages have begun to appear in stores and on food service menus. Some are simply bottled water with flavoring, others may also contain added nutrients such as vitamins, electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and amino acids. The bottled water ingredients of these flavored and nutrient-added water beverages must meet the bottled water requirements if the term "water" is highlighted on the label as in, for example, a product named Berry Flavored Spring Water Beverage. In addition, the flavorings and nutrients added to these beverages must comply with all applicable FDA safety requirements and they must be identified in the ingredient list on the label.

Sample of a Flavored Spring Water Beverage Label

Text Version of the Sample of a Flavored Spring Water Beverage Label

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 8 fl oz (240g)
Servings Per Container about 2

Amount Per Serving
 % Daily Value**
Total Fat 0g*0%  0%  
Sodium 60mg3%  5%  
Total Carbohydrate 3g1%  2%  
   Sugars 2g  
   Proteins 0g  
Vitamin E15%30%
Vitanmin B615%30%
Vitamin B1215%30%

 Not a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium or iron.
* Amount Per Serving
** Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Page Last Updated: 09/02/2015
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