ISI marked water pouches found unsafe

PRESSNOTE-18/E&R/Aug 18

ISI marked water pouches found unsafe

60% brands failed tests; water in pouches contaminated with bacteria

Ahmedabad, 9August 2018

Grahak Sathi (August-September 2018), the National Consumer Magazine in Hindi published by Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad, recently released findings of its in-house comparative product testing laboratory of ten brands of packaged drinking water (pouches).

Packaged drinking water is water from any source, which has been treated and disinfected to make it fit for human consumption and then packaged in bottles or pouches. The pouches were tested for two microbiological parameters – aerobic microbial count and coliform bacteria –and assessed for labelling.


Water pouches banned in Ahmedabad
In a welcome move, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation announced a complete ban on production and use of packaged water pouches commemorating World Environment Day on 5 June 2018. The theme for the day was ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. Our testing of water pouches was conducted much before the ban was announced. Water pouches have been banned in Rajkot as well. Maharashtra has banned water pouches of less than 200 ml capacity.


The test findings were alarming. Sixty per cent of the brands failed to comply with the parameters though they all carried an ISI mark. This means they could be fake products or carrying false ISI labels. It is compulsory for all manufacturers who intend to set up drinking water processing units to obtain the ISI mark from the Bureau of India Standards (BIS). However, illegal manufacturing units do thrive across the country, endangering people’s health.

CERC’s test findings on bottled water in 1998 created ripples in the country. The findings revealed that only three brands out of the 13 tested conformed to the standards. Twenty years down the line, the situation is no better.

KEY FINDINGS(See table for detailed results)

  • Aerobic Microbial Count: As per the BIS limits, the total viable colony count shall not exceed 20 per ml at 37°c in 24 hours and 100 per ml at 20 to 22°c in 72 hours. Five samples of water pouches had total viable colony count more than the prescribed limit at 37°c in 24-hour microbial count. Five samples of water pouches had total viable colony count higher than the prescribed limit at 20 to 22°c in 72-hour microbial count.

Significance of parameter: The Aerobic Microbial Count test determines the total number of aerobic bacteria and is an indication of the bacterial populations of any sample.

  • Coliform bacteria: As per the BIS limits, Coliform bacteria shall be absent in any 250 ml sample. One sample of water pouch had Coliform bacteria.

Significance of parameter: The presence of this group of bacteria is considered to be an indicator of the degree of unhygienic practices during production. Coliform bacteria can cause bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections and typhoid.
Packaged Drinking Water: Test Results

Brands/Areas1 Rank2 Overall
Score3
(%)
Net weight
(ml)
Price
 (Rs.)
Aerobic Microbial Count Coliform bacteria Labelling Score4
At 37°C At 20-22°C
Limits Shall not exceed 20/ml in 24 hours Shall not exceed 100/ml in 72 hours Absent in 250 ml
Passed brands
Bac-free
(Navrangpura)
1 90 200 2 0 41 Absent 25
Zion 
(Memnagar)
2 85 250 2 0 0 Absent 10
Aquafeel
(Vijay Crossroads)
3 73 200 2 0 87 Absent 20
Jay
(Stadium Road)
4 66 250 2 0 77 Absent 10
Failed brands
Assure 
(Ashram Road)
250 2 67 215 Absent
Aquata
(Memnagar)
200 2 278 620 Absent
ABM
(Shahibaug)
250 2 1280 2400 Present
Shayona
(Delhi Chakla)
250 2 18 820 Absent
Pavandeep
(Asarva)
250 2 381 1215 Absent
Fasters
(Commerce Six Roads)
200 2 107 95 Absent
Weightage (%) 25 25 25 25

Notes:
1Areas in Ahmedabad from where the samples were collected
2Only the four brands that passed were rated and ranked. The six brands that failed were not given overall score or rank
3The Overall Score was calculated by giving equal weightage (25%) to the four parameters– Aerobic Microbial Count at 370C, Aerobic Microbial Count at 20-220C, Coliform bacteria and labelling
Labelling score was calculated as the weighted score out of 25

Inadequate labelling 
All pouches carried the ISI mark. Only one pouch displayed batch number (Bac-free) and two had FSSAI manufacturing licence number (Aquata and ABM).  Three pouches mentioned the processing date and best before date (FastersAquafeel and Bac-free). Ironically, seven brands mentioned: “Best before one month from date of processing/packing” but they did not mention the date of processing/packing itself!

The labels in all brands mentioned name of the product (i.e. drinking water) brand name, name and address of processor, net volume, treatment of disinfection and directions for storage.

Best Buy 
Our Best Buy is Bac-free which obtained the highest Overall Score. Not only did Bac-free perform well in the microbiological parameters, it also got the highest labelling score. The label on the Bac-free pouch carried the manufacturing date, best before date and batch number. All this information is very important from the consumer’s viewpoint. The label on the Zion (which was ranked second) pouch had none of this information.

Areas of Action 

  • Since all the pouches tested had ISI mark, but 60% failed to comply with the standards, BIS should look into the possibility of them being fake products.
  • BIS should test samples regularly to safeguard the health of consumers.
  • The regulatory authorities should take strict action against manufacturers who do not give the required labelling information.

Grahak Sathi’s conclusion
The demand for packaged drinking water, especially water pouches which are popular among low income groups, is rising. The regulatory and monitoring authorities should ensure that packaged water offered for sale is safe and free from harmful organisms. Pouch packaged drinking water comes under mandatory BIS certification norms. Hence it is a matter of concern that 60% of the samples failed to comply with the standards. Consumers should go for bottled water which is likely to be safer. 

To read the complete story click on (http://online.fliphtml5.com/xjof/gpbf/ )
For further information please contact
Ms Pritee Shah (O) 079-27489945/46   (M) +91 99048 63838

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