Bleach Found in Bottled Water in Italy

Dec. 8, 2003

Traces of bleach have been found in bottles of mineral water in Italy. Although nobody who drank the water became seriously ill, a few were treated in hospitals for digestive tract irritation.

Thousands of bottles of water have been removed from store shelves. Most of the bottles that appeared to have been tampered with were found in northern Italy. At least three cases of apparently tampered-with water have been reported in the suburbs of Milan.

Newspaper reports over the weekend said that there have been at least a dozen such cases reported over the past week. Some consumers have handed over to the police bottles with what appears to be a pinhole near the cap.

La Repubblica newspaper quoted Angelo Cortesi, the president of the federation of beverage distributors, as suspecting the tampering was occurring at store level.

"It's not possible that the bottles were tampered with in a warehouse because one warehouse can only cover a range of 50 to 70 kilometres," said Cortesi, pointing out that the stores where suspected bottles had been purchased were in some cases hundreds of kilometres apart.

The reports so far have not indicated which brands have been affected.