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IRELAND: Bottled water quality must improve - FSAI

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Ireland's food safety watchdog has told several bottled water producers in the country that they must improve their quality standards, following contamination problems.

Officials will hold a series of meetings with soft drinks firms over the next few weeks, said the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) yesterday (4 December).

The crackdown follows the publication of an FSAI report this week, revealing that 7% of bottled waters it tested failed to meet legal quality standards.

The watchdog said that 1% of waters tested were found to contain E.coli, while 6% contained coliforms, bacteria "whose presence is an indication of possible faecal contamination" and which "raises concerns regarding the standards of hygiene of the source or in the bottling process".

Samples were taken between September and December last year.

A number of products were withdrawn from the market, said FSAI, but added that it could not name companies because the problems found did not pose a risk to public health.

In the industry's defence, FSAI said that firms had acted "responsibly" and moved swiftly to rectify problems found.

Industry body Beverage Council of Ireland (BCI) has agreed to work with food safety officials to review the National Standard for packaged Water, the FSAI said. A meeting is scheduled for 21 and 22 January 2009.

BCI said yesterday (4 December): "The members of the bottled water sector of the BCI reiterate their commitment to the highest quality standards of ensuring the safety and quality of bottled water for consumers."

It noted that only a low number of products were found in breach of legal standards, but added: "The BCI has taken on board the recommendations of the FSAI in its report and its members continue to remain vigilant."


Sectors: Water

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