A UK trade body has attacked a Government minister for making "ill informed" comments about bottled water.

The Bottled Water Information Office (BWIO) was responding to comments made by Environment Minister Phil Woolas late last week. Talking to the BBC, Woolas said it is "daft" that 6m litres of bottled water are drunk in the UK every day, when safe tap water was universally and cheaply available. "It borders on morally being unacceptable to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on bottled water when we have pure drinking water, when at the same time one of the crises that is facing the world is the supply of water," Woolas told the BBC.

In response to the comments, Jill Ardagh, the director general of the BWIO, said today (18 February): "Mr Woolas is clearly ill informed about bottled water and the role it has to play in society, either in this country or other parts of the world.

"Water consumption in general provides an excellent and healthy way to stay hydrated and by its very nature bottled water is completely pure, safe and sustainably sourced."

The trade body said it has been seeking a meeting with Woolas since mid-December, but "with no success".

"We believe his reported remarks are unjustified and ask that he explains his comments immediately," Ardagh added.

Woolas' comments were made for a television programme, which will be broadcast by the BBC today.