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Alleges false and misleading claims about bottled water
On March 10, 2010, the International Bottled Water Assn. (IBWA) filed a lawsuit against Zero Water Technologies, LLC, the seller of at-home water filtration devices, for repeatedly engaging in false, misleading and unsubstantiated advertising designed to confuse consumers about its products and about how they compare to bottled water products. IBWA’s complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, notes that Zero Water has improperly disparaged the quality, safety and cost effectiveness of bottled water in comparison with its own products and has made false and unsubstantiated claims about the capabilities of its products.
Zero Water claims that its products “remove 100% of detectable dissolved solids” and suggests that the absence of all total dissolved solids (TDS) creates a healthier, cleaner, tastier water. In its lawsuit, IBWA said that TDS is not an indicator of water quality or contamination, as Zero Water insinuates. Rather it is an innocuous collection of minerals commonly found in water.
“Total Dissolved Solids mainly affect the taste of water and have not been shown to produce adverse physical health effects,” said IBWA President Joe Doss. “In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that certain concentrations of TDS may even have beneficial health effects.”
Zero Water’s ads make repeated references to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and FDA definitions for purified water that the IBWA said misleads the consuming public into thinking that Zero Water and its products have been tested, regulated or approved by the FDA. However, according to IBWA, Zero Water’s products are not regulated by the FDA and there is no evidence to suggest that Zero Water’s products have been tested to determine whether they “meet the FDA definition for purified bottled water” as stated in Zero Water’s ads.
In contrast to Zero Water’s claims, bottled water products sold by IBWA members and other bottled water companies are comprehensively regulated by the FDA to ensure their safety, quality, and proper labeling, said IBWA. Section 410 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA bottled water regulations be at least as stringent and protective of the public health as the federal Environmental Protection Agency requirements for municipal drinking water.
In addition, the FDA mandates that bottled water products comply with comprehensive requirements, including Standard of Identity regulations, which provide uniform definitions for various types of bottled water (such as spring, distilled, mineral and purified water), and Standards of Quality, which limit the amount of certain substances that can be present in bottled water products. In particular, the FDA Standards of Quality for bottled water set maximum allowable levels for physical, chemical, microbiological and radiological contaminants.