Nestlé has admitted to breaching regulations in France in the way it treats bottled mineral water against contamination.
The company’s bottled water subsidiary, Nestlé Waters, has used different purification treatments on products labelled as “mineral water”, including those sold under brands such as Perrier and Vittel.
According to Le Monde, Nestlé has reportedly used disinfectants “due to sporadic bacterial or chemical contamination.”
However, French law does not permit the use of purification techniques on products labelled as ‘spring’ or ‘mineral’ water, as they are supposed to come from preserved underground resources and already safe to drink when they emerge from the well, Le Monde reported.
In a statement, Nestlé said it has used “microfiltration at [its] Waters sites at a finer level than was previously recognised by the French authorities”.
“We have also used activated carbon filters and ultraviolet systems which, though permitted by other jurisdictions, are not in line with applicable French natural mineral water regulations,” Nestlé added.
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The company said it “proactively” reported this to the French authorities in 2021 and “presented them with several options to ensure compliance moving forward”.
“The French authorities have validated our use of this finer microfilter as consistent with the applicable regulatory framework,” Nestlé said.
“At the same time, and under the control of the French authorities, we removed the treatments that were not permitted by France.”
As a consequence, Nestlé said it has made “certain difficult but necessary decisions,” such as suspending “some wells dedicated to” its Hépar and Contrex brands, “which were either close to the surface or outdated, hence particularly vulnerable to wider environmental impacts”.
The Swiss giant said it had added two wells to the production of a new range of non-“mineral water beverages”, sold under a new brand name, Maison Perrier.
Nestlé’s aim with Maison Perrier is “to respond to consumer trends in today’s dynamic beverage market”.