Article courtesy of Morning Call staff reports | June 22, 2015 | Morning Call | Shared as educational material
Bottled water sold under Niagara, Wegmans and other brand names that was possibly contaminated with E. coli should be safe but was recalled “out of an abundance of caution,” Niagara Bottling said Saturday.
State agencies warned Friday that spring water bottled this month by Niagara Bottling plants in Upper Macungie and Hamburg might be contaminated and should not be drunk.
The state Department of Environmental Protection found the bacteria in spring water that Niagara bought from Far Away Springs-Auburn in Schuylkill County, state officials said.
“DEP cannot provide assurance to the public as to the quality of the water bottled by Niagara between June 10 and June 18,” said a Friday joint news release of the DEP and the state departments of agriculture and health.
Consumers should avoid Niagara water bottled during this period, and those with questions on their bottled water purchases can reach Niagara at 877-487-7873, the agencies advised.
The water was bottled under the Niagara label as well as Wegmans, Acadia, Best Yet, Nature’s Place, Shaws, Acme, 7-11, Pricerite, Shoprite, Big Y, Superchill, Western Beef Blue and Morning Fresh, the company said in a news release Saturday.
The only affected products have codes that begin with the letter F (for Hamburg) or A (for Allentown). The first digit after the letter indicates the number of the production line. The next two numbers indicate the day, then the month in letters, the year, and then the time, based on a 24-hour clock.
Anyone who gets sick after drinking the water should ask for medical advice, the agencies said.
The suspect water was bottled at the Niagara plant at 7561 Industrial Blvd., Upper Macungie, and at the Niagara plant in Hamburg.
The bacteria were found in the spring June 10 but Niagara wasn’t notified by the operator until June 18, Stan Bratskeir, a Niagara spokesman, said Saturday. Niagara immediately shut down the production line in question, decontaminated the line and issued a voluntary recall “out of an abundance of caution,” he said.
“None of the water from Niagara showed any sign of E. coli,” Bratskeir said.
Even bacteria were present, they would have been killed through the process Niagara uses to treat the water, he said.
“What went into the bottle would be clean,” he added.
In a statement, Far Away Springs owner Stan Frompovicz said that while tests indicated the possibility of contamination, “every load [of water] is tested again at the receiving plant, where all results have been perfect.
“FAS only sells out water to bottling plants that further treats and finishes the water before bottling,” the statement said. “Therefore, the failed test result in question, even if valid, could not result in a threat to public health.”
The statement also said the same water that showed possible contamination was tested at least 25 times at two different plants on the same day and all results were clean.
In a phone interview, Frompovicz said the company was notified June 10 of possible contamination but received no immediate confirmation from the testing agency, so the alert didn’t go out to Niagara until June 18.
The DEP received several samples of the Far Away Springs water as part of its routine water testing program. The testing turned up the E. coli bacteria, the agency said.
E. coli indicates the water could be contaminated with human or animal wastes.
Water contaminated with E. coli can sicken those who drink it, and it can cause serious illness in those who have severely compromised immune systems, infants and some of the elderly, the state said.