Article courtesy of Maitri Porecha| May 9, 2015 | DNA India | Shared as educational material
Not all packaged water jars in city are safe for consumption. The state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raided water packaging plants across the state between April 2014 and March 2015 to collect 95 water samples. Of these, 53% were contaminated and unfit for human consumption.
Of the 95 plants raided, ten were operating from Mumbai. Samples were also drawn from Pune, Solapur, Satara, Sangali and Kolhapur.
Of the 95 samples, 28 had high bacterial count and 23 did not meet quality standards. “Four of the ten samples drawn from plants in Mumbai, four were found to be unsafe for consumption,” said Uday Vanjari, joint commissioner (food), FDA headquarters.
All the samples were subjected to bacteriological analysis in FDA-run labs. “In certain samples, rod-shaped bacteria called coliform was found in high proportion,” said Vanjari. Contamination due to Coliform can cause diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomitting.
FDA enforces hygienic consumption of drinking water under Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) mandate under the Food Standards and Safety Act, 2006.
“Time and again we clamp down on clandestine illegal water packaging operators who run makeshift plants out of their home, sheds or small rented spaces. The operators supply packaged water jars to nearby clients for consumption, including commercial complexes and shops,” said an officer from FDA.
To run a packaged water plant, licensing and approval from Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and FSSAI certificate is necessary. “None of the plants had BIS and FSSAI certification. It takes almost Rs1 lakh to attain the necessary registrations. Moreover, to run a licensed packaging water plant requires investment of up to Rs20 lakh or more to procure adequate filtration and purification machinery,” said the officer.
All the operators that FDA cracked down on do not adequately filter the water before selling it. “Purification processes of reverse osmosis or ozonisation are mandatory before packaging water. These were not followed.
Water from bore wells, tube wells or mere tap water is filled and sold at close to Rs10-20 per jar. Most so-called packed water jars are of 5, 10 or 20 liters in quantity,” said the officer.
Tips to customers
FDA officials urge the masses to check for a few things before purchasing jars of packaged water. “The public should make sure that the seal cap of the jar is intact. The seal breaks and gives away once the cap is opened. Also, water jar containers should be checked for packaging and manufacturing dates, batch numbers and label of the Bureau of Indian Standards. It should also be checked if the label contains name of an authorised water packaging and manufacturing company,” said an FDA officer.
FDA officials say it is difficult to control proliferation of illegal water packaging plants. “Stop work notices to curb production as well as FIRs in certain cases have been filed. However, the illegal operators lay low for a while and start their clandestine business from elsewhere.”
The demand of water jar containers shoots up substantially during summer with thousands of jars being consumed every day.