Regulation of Bottled Water

Bottled water is a safe, healthy, and convenient packaged food product, which is comprehensively regulated at both the federal and state level.
 

Strictly regulated as a packaged food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), bottled water is a safe, refreshing, convenient, and consistently reliable beverage choice. By federal law, FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the EPA regulations that govern tap water. And, in some cases, the bottled water regulations are more stringent. To suggest in any way that bottled water is less stringently regulated than tap water is simply not true.

The FDA clearly states that it ensures, "that the quality standards for bottled water are compatible with EPA standards for tap water.  Each time EPA establishes a standard for a contiminant, FDA either adopts it for bottled water or finds that the standard isn't necessary for bottled water."

Facts about the regulation of bottled water:

  • At the federal level, bottled water must comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) (21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq.) and several parts of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Section 410 of FFDCA requires that FDA’s bottled water regulations be as stringent and as protective of the public health as the EPA’s tap water standards.

  • The FDA has issued comprehensive bottled water Standards of Identity, which provide uniform requirements and definitions for the following bottled water classifications: drinking, artesian, groundwater, distilled, deionized, reverse osmosis, mineral, purified, sparkling, spring, and well water. (21 C.F.R. § 165.110 (a)) More Information About Bottled Water Classifications.

  • FDA has also established bottled water Standards of Quality for more than 90 substances. (21 C.F.R. § 165.110 (b)) Most FDA bottled water quality standards are the same as EPA's maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for tap water systems. The few differences are usually the result of the substance not being found in bottled water or the substance is regulated under another provision of law such as FDA's food additives program.