Are the mineral water cans you are buying for drinking purpose really safe? Is the packaged water meeting the standard guidelines of Food Safety Act?

The answers are coming in negative as at least 25 Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants in Madurai district are yet to obtain the mandatory licence from Government food safety wing. These drinking water plants are, however, continuing to supply water cans to homes.

Officials are going to step up raids against violators and they have appealed to the public to remember that the water need not be safe just because it is supplied in a can. The Indian Public Health Association’s Tamil Nadu Branch too is pursuing ‘water surveillance’ in the interest of public since innocent people are being taken for a ride by some packaged water units.

J. Suguna, Designated Officer for Food Safety, Madurai district, told The Hindu on Wednesday that there are totally 55 mineral water plants in the district of which only 30 plants possess the safety license.

“Food safety officers will carry out searches in unlicensed units and action will be taken as per the Food Safety Act. In the meantime, public too can complain to her on mobile number 98423-03625 if they have suspicion about any water supplier,” she said.

Urging all RO plants to complete the licence formalities soon, Ms.Suguna said that people must see whether the packing date and best before date (expiry) are there on the water can.

She said that the 25 plants under scanner are now having only ISI certification but have not taken food safety standards licence.

“It is important for us to be alert since there are complaints that some suppliers are misusing brand names. Our officials will look in to that also,” she assured.

The RO plants will have to get their ISI certification renewed every year.

The manner in which water cans are washed and cleaned in the mineral water plants will also be watched carefully.

Ms.Suguna has said that her team had seized a few water lorries when they were carrying drinking water which was not chlorinated.

“The water will be poured out on the spot if we come across such lorries and drivers should be careful,” she warned.

Meanwhile, the State president of Indian Public Health Association S.Elango has urged the Health Department to be tough on mineral water plants since they directly affect public health.

“We have information that there are 300 mineral water RO plants functioning in the State without licence. Water testing labs should be increased and inspection of mineral water plants should be under the purview of Directorate of Public Health,” he demanded.

Dr.Elango expressed concern that drinking water became a lucrative business where some units have been supplying unsafe water to public.

“Water samples should be taken frequently and tested in authorised labs. We should not allow unscrupulous water suppliers to thrive at the cost of people’s health,” he said.

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