IBWA Talking Points on Illinois SB 966 – Bottled Water Labeling

IBWA Talking Points on Illinois SB 966 – Bottled Water Labeling

IBWA Talking Points on

Illinois SB 966 – Bottled Water Labeling

May 12, 2003

Talking Points


Re: Illinois SB 966 – Bottled Water Labeling


The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) understands that some consumers want access to information about the food they consume, including bottled water. The current comprehensive system of bottled water regulation at the state and federal level fully protects the public health by:

1. establishing stringent product standards (both production, labeling, and quality);

2. preventing and removing substandard or injurious products from the market; and

3. allowing consumers to easily obtain information through the contact information required to be on bottled water labels.


Below are outlined the specific concerns with Illinois SB 996 amendments.


Bottled water is a regulated food product

    • Bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through rules both specific to bottled water and as well as all food products.
    • Bottled water has its own unique set of bottled water Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (21 C.F.R. § 129.1 et. seq.) in addition to being subject to the Food Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for all food products. (21 C.F.R. § 110.3 et. seq.)
    • Bottled water is a packaged food regulated like all other packaged foods under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. § 321, et. seq.) (the Act) while municipal water systems which convey water in nonpackaged, continuous distribution systems, are regulated very differently under the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. § 300f et. seq.) (SDWA)
    • FDA has established standards of quality for various contaminants in bottled water. (21 C.F.R. § 165.110(b))
    • FDA standards of quality for bottled water must be at least as stringent and protective of the public health as the standards for public drinking water. (21 U.S.C. § 349) FDA is mandated to review the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency s (EPA) maximum contaminant levels (MCL s) for public drinking water, and rule within 180 days of implementation as to their applicability to bottled water. If FDA does not make such a determination, the EPA MCL applies to bottled water.


Emergency Notification Plans

    • Unlike municipal water systems, bottled water that violates a water quality standard should not be available for sale. The proposed amendment to SB 996 is less protective of public health than current law.
    • If a bottled water product exceeds a contaminant for which there is a FDA Standard of Quality  allowable level, the product must be labeled to reflect this substandard level of quality (e.g., contains excessive ________ ). 21 C.F.R. § 165.110(c), 21 U.S.C. § 343(h)(1)
    • Bottled water is subject to the food adulteration requirements of the Act (21 U.S.C. § 342).
    • Bottled water is subject to the full array of FDA enforcement actions, including warning letters, civil (seizure and/or injunction) and criminal penalties. (21 U.S.C. § 331-337.)


Annual Licensing Fees

    • Variances are not applicable to bottled water, since bottled water that exceeds a contaminant level must be so labeled and can be subject to the food adulteration requirements of the Act and possible product recall.


Consumer Confidence Reporting

    • A recent study by the Water Quality Association showed only 17% of the adults surveyed indicated that they had received and read the consumer confidence report (CCR) from their municipal water system.
    • CCR type information does not provide useful information on bottled water because it may not reflect a specific bottle s contents.
    • All bottled water must be compliant with the standards of quality that are established by FDA and DPH as protective of the public health. Because bottled water is a food product, variances or excedences of the standards of quality are not allowed.
    • Bottled water that does contain minerals such as fluoride, calcium, magnesium, or sodium, do indeed provide useful label information via the nutrition panel as required under the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA).
    • CCR type information is not a material fact, the absence of which would make the product mislabeled, for bottled water or other food product labeling.
    • No other food products, including food products that use water as the primary ingredient, are required to provide CCR type information. Bottled water information is accessible through current food product labeling requirements.
    • There is no public health or public policy basis to mandate CCRs for bottled water.


Distribution of Consumer Confidence Report to Customers

    • Bottled water and its distribution are substantially different from municipal water systems. In Illinois, there are wide variety of choices of brands and package sizes of bottled water.
    • Because of the open distribution channels, bottled water can be purchased from retail, wholesale, and direct delivery companies. For example, replacement bottles for home coolers can be delivered directly to the home, but can also be purchased at retail.
    • One of the reasons it is not feasible to distribute CCR s for bottled water is the open distribution system for bottled water, unlike municipal water systems closed distribution system.


Bottled Water Labeling

    • Presently, bottled water has extensive labeling requirements, including the statement of identity, compliance with the definitions in the Standard of Identity, ingredient and quantity labeling, name and mailing address or telephone number of the manufacturer, packer or distributor, and nutritional labeling, if so required.
    • Bottled water has an extensive Standard of Identity regulation that defines products, for example: artesian water, spring water, purified water, and sparkling water. (21 C.F.R. § 1165.110(a)) If a product is labeled as “spring water” but does not meet the FDA definition of spring water  in the Standard of Identity, it is misbranded and subject to civil and/or criminal enforcement action.
    • In 1995, FDA considered and rejected a requirement that bottled water labels specify the water source. A state requirement to include additional information on a bottled water label is pre-empted by federal law.


Annual Inspection Program

    • DPH has the authority to perform unannounced inspections of water bottling facilities and to do random testing of finished product.
    • As a condition of membership in IBWA, all bottlers must submit to annual unannounced inspections by an independent third party.
    • Allowing DHS to photograph bottled water facilities calls into question issues related to the Freedom of Information Act as well as consideration of the security of the food supply.


# # #