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Bottled water safety myth

CHOICE busts the bottled water myth after tests reveal watery label claims

16 September 2017

A CHOICE investigation has found bottled water is no safer or healthier than tap water, and some beverage brands are spruiking murky claims.

"Although industry research shows Australians believe bottled water is safer and tastier than tap water, beverage companies are only required to test their products once a year but tap water is tested regularly," says CHOICE investigative journalist Kate Browne.

One local brand, Australian Artesian Water, claims that it's full of mineral salts that are quickly absorbed by your body, replenishing and cleansing. [1]

"Our investigation found the water in the bottle couldn't be more different to the one on its label. In fact, the plain old tap water we tested contained more minerals than the bottled water," says Ms Browne.

Another brand sold at a major Sydney hospital, Zouki Breathe, claims its oxygen-infused water has one of the highest concentration levels of oxygen in any spring water in Australia, with benefits such as endurance, mental focus and recovery. [2]

"These claims are as thin as the air that comes out of the water once it's extracted from the ground," says Ms Browne.

"At $3.50 for one bottle, vulnerable consumers are being sold a pricey product that's no more oxygenated than tap water".

Water utilities in Australia are required to monitor water safety 24/7 and thousands of tests are conducted each year. Despite Australian tap water being some of the safest drinking water in the world, beverage companies raked in about $700 million from bottled water sales in 2016. [3]

"The beverage industry has made millions of dollars by using clever marketing to dupe consumers into thinking tap water is unhealthy or unsafe," Ms Browne says.

"By using words such as 'natural' or 'infused' these companies are tricking people into paying big bucks for a product that costs almost 2000 times the price of tap water. [4]

"What's worse, bottled water is bad for the environment with plastic bottles among the 10 most common rubbish items picked up on Clean Up Australia Day. [5]

 "Consumers are better off topping up bottles from the tap or from a jug in the fridge".

The good news is there are simple things consumers can do to quench their thirst without hurting the hip pocket.

  • Use a reusable drink bottle.
  • Contact your local council for more information about maintained water standards and the availability of taps in your area.
  • Install a tap filter or contact your water utility if you're concerned about the taste or quality.
  • If you're in Victoria, you can find the nearest tap to refill your bottle by checking the Choose Tap app. If your area is not included, ask your utility or council to provide coordinates to Yarra Valley water.

Media contact: Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669


About CHOICE

Set up by consumers for consumers, CHOICE is the consumer advocate that provides Australians with information and advice, free from commercial bias. As vital today as when we were founded in 1959, CHOICE continues to fight for consumers and uncover the truth. By mobilising Australia’s largest and loudest consumer movement, CHOICE fights to hold industry and government accountable and achieve real change on the issues that matter most.