They should check for packing details

The next time you purchase a 20-litre can of drinking water, it will be a wise to ascertain if the cap, which should be wrapped with a printed paper, displays the brand name, the batch number, and the date of packing.

20-litre cans

For, Food Safety authorities say that compared to sachets or one or two-litre bottles, the spurious drinking water is sold mainly through 20 litre cans.

The can that you return after use might not always end up at the manufacturers’ place.

Many unscrupulous operators get hold of these cans, fill untreated water, and push them to market through small stores.

And owners of such stores are only willing to sell these products because of the higher margins these operators offer.

Details

These cans will not have the mandatory details on the cap, simply because even the caps are spurious.

You, as a customer, can beat this practice by doing just a few basic checks, says R. Kathiravan, Designated Officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing).

All the packaged water manufacturing companies had been instructed to affix their brand seal on the caps of 20-litre cans and wrap it with a cover, he told The Hindu.

It was only in the interest of these companies to follow the norms.

As the original cap affixed by the water company gets destroyed when customers open it, the cap placed by these operators would not have any details, including the batch number.

All customers must insist upon their supplier providing only those cans that had these basic details.

Ambiguity

Many water manufacturing units had mushroomed in the city of late and were making capital out of the ambiguity in Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

The Act, he said, set stringent standards for ‘mineral’ and ‘packaged’ water, both of which must have the ISI accreditation given by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Units

There were no mineral water manufacturing units in Coimbatore, he said.

The district, however, had 60 packaged water manufacturing units.

The Nilgiris, Tirupur, and Erode districts together had around 30 such units.

Dr. Kathiravan said that it was mandatory for all of these packaged water manufacturing units, regardless of company’s size or market share, to put in place an intensive filtration process for the water and should also be equipped with a laboratory staffed by a certified micro-biologist.

These norms were enforced by the BIS, which had its own surveillance mechanism independent of the State authorities.

After the water was packaged, it is kept in the company for several hours after which it was tested for growth of micro-organisms.

Only after it was ascertained that there was no growth of biological substances in this duration would the product be distributed.

There were no such norms for ‘herbal’ or ‘flavoured’ water under any Union or State legislation.

Herbal water

Coimbatore district alone had a total of 30 herbal and flavoured water manufacturing units.

“Many units are simply avoiding the use of these to get around the ISI accreditation. These units do not standards set for them and are a cause for major concern as the public remain unaware of these intricacies. They just look at the packaging of the bottle and buy it,” Mr. Kathiravan added.

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