31 December 2007

Egypt Bottled Water "UNSAFE"

Do you know where bottled water comes from? Probably not, right? Well, you’re not alone. Bottled water giants like Pepsi, Coke, and Nestlé don’t readily disclose the sites and sources of the water that’s bottled. And in fact, bottled water corporations prefer to spend tens of millions of dollars every year on misleading ads that undermine confidence in our public water systems.

Knowing the above, it was a huge shock to large number of Egyptians when they read the Al Ahram newspaper article published in on 26 December where the “Egypt Consumer Protection Agency” confirmed that most bottled water brands in Egypt is just processed tap water or water from wells that are 160-170 meters deep. The Agency also found six locally produced brands of bottled water, including Schweppes, unfit for human consumption..

Said El Alfy chairman of the “Egypt Consumer Protection Agency” said at a news conference that a study financed by his one-year-old agency and conducted over two months by the Central Egyptian Society for Consumer Protection and the Health Ministry took samples of 21 bottled water brands and discovered bacteria in six of them.

Schweppes contaminated with bacteria

The study said the contaminated samples are the 1.5-litre bottles of Schweppes and el-Nada and the 19-litre bottles of Nahl, Aquastone, Aquamena and Hayat.

The study also found seven other brands were fraudulently labelled - meaning the ingredients on labels did not match what was in the water - but said they were still fit for consumption. Those include the 1.5-litre bottles of Baraka, el-Manar, Delta, Hayat, Aquamena and Nahl and 19-litre bottles of Siwa.

Baraka fraudulently labelled

El Alfy confirmed that there are only 7 brands of 1.5-litre bottles fit for consumption those include Aqua, Nestle, Aquasiwa, Mineral, Dasani, Siwa, Aquafina and 19-litre bottles of Nestle.

The Egyptian Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a statement on Wednesday that it had formed an emergency committee to inspect the factories as soon as possible.

Schweppes Egypt officials did not return multiple calls for comment and to discuss if there is a connection between that company and London-based Cadbury Schweppes. No one was available to comment at Cadbury's office in Cairo.

The Coca-Cola Co lists Schweppes on its website among brands that it owns or uses under license, but a spokesperson for Coca-Cola could not immediately comment on any relationship with the Egyptian Schweppes. No doubt Coca-Cola still remembers what happened in Britain in 2004, when the press made a stink over the fact that Dasani was simply filtered tap water.

Pepsi’s Aquafina, is just processed tap water, despite the image of the snow-capped mountain that appears on every label. When will Pepsi move the Mountain off its Aquafina label? and when it will reveal the sites and sources of the water it bottles.

Thousands of Egyptians suffer from kidney failure every year mainly because of lack of a reliable source of clean drinkable water. Many Egyptians believe tap water is contaminated and unhealthy.

The success of bottled water is in many ways one of capitalism’s greatest mysteries. Studies show consistently that tap water in many is purer than many bottled waters—not including those that contain only tap water, which by some estimates is 40% of the total by volume. The health benefits that are claimed for some bottled waters are unproven, at best. By volume, bottled water often costs 1,000 times the price of tap water. Indeed, even with oil prices sky high, a litre of bottled water can cost more than a litre of petrol. And on top of that, there are the environmental costs of transporting bottled water and of manufacturing and disposing of the bottles.

Above all, consumers may be buying bottled water because they believe it is fundamentally safer, less likely than tap water to become contaminated—a growing worry nowadays. And, if it is contaminated, that contamination is likely to be spotted and neutralised faster and more effectively by a bottler than by government regulators or a water utility.

The contaminated Dasani water in Britain brought bad publicity, but the dirty water never reached the public. Likewise, the impressive way that Perrier handled its benzene contamination scare in 1990—immediately recalling its entire output of bottles—is a case study in how to manage such a problem. But is it the same case in Egypt?

Perhaps the popularity of bottled water is an indictment of the waste inherent in capitalism. On the other hand, maybe it is testimony to the good job that capitalism, in the form of bottled-water producers, has done in developing quality controls and safety protections that are more reassuring than those put in place by our governments and regulated utilities. The difference may be small—but big enough to get those who can afford it to pay a substantial premium for what is, after all, the stuff of life.

Source from Al-Ahram Daily official newspaper, and Reuters


Anonymous said...

Please can you tell me what is average price of 1L water in Egypt?

Anonymous said...

i would say that 1 L is around 20 L.E

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Very nice and intrestingss story.

Jiho said...

hello, I am one of students in Egypt. My school kiosk sells dasani and aquafina. Do you think those are still drinkable? I mean dasani tastes disgusting recently. I prefer nestle bottled water, but it tastes like a tap water from switzerland (I went to swiss this summer, and it tasted same) pls contact me asap

jihopark93 said...

Do you think this is still true? pls send me an email thank you

Emre said...

Can you list all of the bottled water producer in Egypt please?

of rainbows and clouds said...

so what do you drink for your every day water consumption?

Anonymous said...

jiho: swiss tap water is drinkable, so ur safe.

Anonymous said...

صباح الخير
عندى تعليق واحد على تعبئة الزجاجة الى اقصى درجة للحد اللى وانا بفتحها لازم تنكب اعتقد انة من المفروض يكون فى حد بسيط يسمح لى بفتحها من دون ان تنسكب بهذة الطريقة !!!! ولكم خالص الشكر والتقدير