Lab analysis reveals sub-standard water being supplied in Madurai

Mineral water cans are routinely delivered on doorsteps with a mere phone call. But if you are under an impression that the water that you buy matches the parameters to be classified as packaged drinking water or mineral water, then you are in for a shock. Water analysis tests done at the Government Food Analysis Laboratory in Chennai of drinking water samples collected in Madurai have revealed that sub-standard water is being sold to households and offices.

The results, which were despatched to the Food Safety and Drug Administration office here this week, point to deficiencies in the drinking water being supplied by seven manufacturers in the district. A team of Food Safety Officers collected water samples earlier this month and sent them for analysis. “We sent 32 water samples collected from various places in the district to our Chennai lab and received the results for 29 samples on Tuesday. The report clearly says that seven of them were sub-standard and three misbranded,” J. Suguna, Designated Officer for Food Safety, Madurai district, told The Hindu on Thursday.

The samples were collected from shops, manufacturing units, reverse osmosis plants and storage points during the surprise checks.

A wide range of local water brands were covered at places such as Kalavasal, Vadipatti, Pudupatti, Tirumangalam, Peraiyur, Othakadai, Chinthamani, Oomachikulam, Chettikulam, Chellampatti, Poikaraipatti, Kochadai, Melur, Thanakkankulam, Bypass Road and Anuppanadi.

The samples fell into four categories — genuine, unsafe, sub-standard and complied to standards.

It was found that the pH level in seven water samples was far lower than the prescribed 6.5-8.5 pH level meant for packaged and mineral water. This sub-standard water is supplied in cans and bottles.

“We issued notices to the seven suppliers and within 15 days they have to correct the deficiencies. Even though there is nothing alarming as such, the pH level has to be maintained as per the standards. Samples will be collected once again to check for compliance,” Dr. Suguna said.

The Food Analyst Report available at the Food Safety wing office in Viswanathapuram lays down exact specifications with regard to level of content for colour, odour, aerobic microbial count, fluoride, sulphide, alkalinity, and so on.

Suspect water

As per the report, the suspect drinking water was supplied from seven RO plants and stockists in Anuppanadi, Paravai, Arumbanur, Athalai, Sathiyapuram (Melur), Thanakkankulam and Meyyappanpatti.

The revelation of three ‘misbranded’ mineral water products (wrong label) is another challenge for the authorities.

According to the Food Products Standards, packaged drinking water means water derived from surface water, underground water or sea water which is subjected to specified treatments — filtration, aeration, cartridge filter, de-mineralisation, re-mineralisation, reverse osmosis — and packed after disinfecting the water to a level that should not lead to any harmful contamination.

Those who doubt the genuineness of mineral water can make a complaint to the Designated Officer for Food Safety on mobile number 98423 03625.