Food safety is a real issue and so it is important for you to know the difference between packaged drinking water and mineral water. You might have been to a hotel where they have pointed out that they supply two types of packaged water one that costs only Rs.20 a litre and another that could cost Rs.50 a litre or even more. Why are the costs of the two bottled water different if they are both packaged water? You could be surprised to know that the less expensive water is ‘packaged drinking water’ and the more expensive water is ‘packaged natural mineral water.’ The truth is that the water in each of the bottles is different, has different compositions and has been sourced and treated differently.If you scrutinise the labels you will see that they are labelled differently. The standards for water testing are also different.
According to BIS standards packaged drinking water is potable water that has been subjected to treatments like filtration, RO, UV etc. It could be demineralized or re-mineralized by adding minerals and it is disinfected by using chemical agents to eliminate the risk of harmful contaminants so as to maintain food safety. The source of the water can be from ground water like bore wells or tap water supplied by municipalities.
Packaged natural mineral water on the other hand is sourced from lakes, rivers, drilled from the underground. All precautions taken to ensure the chemical and physical characteristic of the water remain as is available at source. It is not treated and neither are artificial minerals or trace elements added. It is collected in a way that helps retain its original microbiologicalpurity and essential chemical composition. Natural mineral water could also have differing taste depending on the concentration of minerals and the geology of the land it has been sourced from.
Though both packaged drinking water and packaged natural mineral water are meant for consumption yet the microbiological and chemical limits are different say BIS standards. When water testing is carried out then they must comply with the limits set in BIS standards and be labelled either packaged drinking water or packaged natural mineral water. According to regulations ISI certification is compulsory for packaged water and while packaged natural mineral water is governed under IS:13428, packaged drinking water governed by IS:14543.
It is also mandatory for water to be sold in prescribed standards of weight in cans that are 100 ml / 150 ml / 200 ml / 250 ml / 300 ml / 330ml for bottles the standards are 500ml / 750 ml / 1 litre / 1.5 litre / 2, 3, 4, 5 litre and thereafter in multiples of 5 litres.The packaging material used in packaged mineral water is made of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and is completely safe to re-use. However, because of hygienic concerns and consumer food safety single use bottles must not be re-used for storing drinking water.