Consumer Reports has identified 11 brands of bottled water, out of more than 130 that either self-reported or were tested by the consumer organization, that contain detectable amounts of arsenic.
” Of those, six had levels of 3 ppb (parts per billion) or higher,” according to Consumer Reports (CR) officials announced. “These brands are Starkey owned by Whole Foods, Peñafiel owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper, Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water, Volvic owned by Danone, and two regional brands, Crystal Creamery, and EartH₂O.
As part of the investigation, CR bought two brands of imported water — Jermuk from Armenia and Peñafiel from Mexico — that are on an import alert issued by the federal government for previously having arsenic levels above the federal limit of 10 ppb. Such an alert is meant to “prevent potentially violative products from being distributed in the United States,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. Even so, CR said it easily purchased the two brands in retail stores in two states and on Amazon.
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing, investigative journalism, consumer-oriented research, public education, and consumer advocacy.
Ahead of the CR report, Keurig Dr. Pepper suspended production of its Peñafiel brand. CR urged tougher standards and a full recall for the brand.
From late 2016 through early 2017, Starkey Water — the name of Whole Foods’ brand — recalled more than 2,000 cases of water after tests by regulators showed an impermissible level of arsenic beyond the federally mandated threshold of 10 parts per billion. A year later, Whole Foods’ internal testing showed results that were under the federal limit but still at levels that a growing body of research and independent experts, including Consumer Reports scientists, say pose health risks if regularly consumed.
Over the past few years, as consumers have worried more about the quality of municipal tap water, bottled water has surged in popularity and is now the nation’s best-selling bottled beverage. But a CR investigation has found that in some cases bottled water on store shelves contains more potentially harmful arsenic than tap water flowing into some homes.
“It makes no sense that consumers can purchase bottled water that is less safe than tap water,” said James Dickerson, chief scientific officer at Consumer Reports in the announcement. He said bottled water should be regulated “at least as strictly as tap water.”
For the report, CR tracked down and reviewed hundreds of public records and test reports from bottled water brands, and from various federal and state regulators. It found that several popular brands sell bottled water with arsenic levels at or above 3 ppb; current research suggests that amounts above that level are potentially dangerous to drink over extended periods. CR believes the federal limit for bottled water should be revised down to 3 ppb from the current national standard of 10 ppb.
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