October 30, 2001
Consumers choose bottled water because of its consistent safety, high quality, good taste and convenience. As demonstrated through the IBWA Model Code, members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) have established high standards that set them apart from others in the industry. This same commitment to excellence should apply to the manner in which bottled water companies and distributors advertise their products to a savvy, demanding consumer audience.
As the bottled water industry continues to grow, responsible and truthful advertising is an important factor in maintaining consumer trust in bottled water. To help guide members in their advertising practices, IBWA has established the IBWA Code of Advertising Standards, which provides recommendations for advertising in a truthful, law abiding manner that does not mislead the public, yet communicates the special attributes of bottled water and a particular brand.
These guidelines are voluntary. Members choosing not to subscribe to the Code, or any part thereof, are free to advertise truthfully in any matter they wish.
Drinking Water Safety -Bottled water advertising should not exploit consumer fears about the safety of public drinking water supplies. Therefore, IBWA recommends that:
A. Advertising should not allege that public water supplies that comply with federal and state safety standards are dangerous to health, unhealthy, or will cause disease or illness. For example, advertising should not say that a public drinking water supply or public water meeting government safety standards “contains cancer causing chemicals” or “is harmful to health.”
B. Advertising should not attempt to alarm consumers who may be concerned about the safety of their drinking water. For example, advertising should not allege that government or public health authorities are worried about the safety of public water sources. Such unacceptable advertising, might, for example, depict news articles with alarming headlines reflecting alleged EPA or other official organization concerns about the safety of public water, except when using direct government agency quotes not taken out of context. Another example is advertising alleging that government safety standards for public water are inadequate to protect the public.
October 30, 2001
C. In a factually accurate manner, advertising may describe the safety of bottled water. All such advertising must fully conform to all federal and state laws and standards, including the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 and its implementing regulations where applicable.
1. For example, advertising may state what bottled water does and does not contain. If true, advertising may state that bottled water is “pure” or contains “no sodium.” “no cancer-causing chemicals,” or “no toxic chemicals.” If the label fully and accurately describes the contents of bottled water, advertising may state, for
2. example, that the consumer “knows what is in” or “knows what is not in” their bottled water.
3. For example, advertising may state that bottled water meets or exceeds all government safety standards for drinking water.
4. Bottled water advertising may depict wholesome, healthy people enjoying the positive qualities of bottled water.
5. Advertising may depict the care and quality control that goes into the bottling of water. This can include describing sources from which the water is derived, government regulation of the industry, sanitary bottling procedures, advanced treatment technologies, or other measures employed to help assure safety.
Health Claims – Regular consumption of drinking water is important to health and wellness. A distinguishing feature of bottled water is that consumers choose bottled water for its consistent safety, high quality, good taste, and convenience. Advertising should not mislead consumers as to the healthful effects of bottled water. All such advertising must fully conform to all applicable laws and standards, including the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 and its implementing regulations where applicable. Therefore, IBWA recommends that:
A. Advertising may not state that a bottled water provides medicinal benefits, therapeutic results, or nutritional value unless substantiated by reliable scientific studies.
B. Advertising may describe the healthful qualities of drinking water. For example, advertising may:
1. describe the importance of regular consumption of pure drinking water.
2. depict wholesome people enjoying a healthful lifestyle and illustrate the role of quality drinking water in this lifestyle.
3. describe the positive attributes of drinking bottled water as compared to other beverages that contain calories or ingredients such as alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or caffeine, etc.
4. describe the healthful qualities of bottled water may be described by stating what it does not contain, for example, “sodium free, for persons on sodium restricted diets” or by comparing the contents of bottled water to an accepted safety criterion. However, generalized comparative health claims or claims that the absence or reduced level of a particular contaminant in bottled water is “healthier” or “better for your health” or otherwise is conducive to better health are not acceptable unless the “healthier” quality of bottled water versus the competing product is substantiated by reliable scientific evidence.
Nature and Source of Bottled Water -Advertising about the nature or source of bottled water intended to convey that bottled water is safe or of high quality must be accurate and fully substantiated. Descriptions of bottled water must comply with all applicable federal standards of identity.