Feb 18, 2004

Bottled Water Shelf Life Remains Unclear

For a long time, it has been said that bottled water does not expire. Most bottled water on the shelves such as Pepsi and Aquafina have been stamped with a date. Some say "expires" and others say "best by." Now, scientists have become divided on whether or not expiration dates are necessary for bottled water.

A required expiration date on bottled water would be big news considering the product is at the top of emergency preparedness lists, which has many people and businesses storing bottled water indefinitely.

Currently, New Jersey is the only state that requires an expiration date. However, since the law is in place, it is easier for a manufacturer to print dates on all containers instead of a select few that will be shipped to that state. Other states including New York, Michigan and Lousiana require only bottling dates on the products, reported the article.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Corss both encourage the public to change their bottled water every six months. The government says that the recommendation by the Department of Homeland Security is "really directed at people who bottle their own tap water," reported an article in the Detroit News. However, the Food and Drug Administration considers bottled water to have an "indefinite shelf life."

More often than not, the use of expiration dates is a matter of taste and not health concerns. According to the article, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, Susan McDermott, says the company has done research on its own Dasani brand showing that the taste of its bottled water changes after its one-year expiration date. But, she adds: "It is probably not something the average person will notice." Manufacturers also said most people drink their water well short of the industry average two-year mark.

Although consumers probably won't purchase the expired water, the debate will continue whether or not "expired" water has health-related changes. If taste is the main factor, consumers are less likely to buy.

For more information on bottled water, visit www.bottledwater.org.