With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

Bottled water is a staple in most households, but there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding this product. So, here we will explore some of the most frequently asked bottled water questions.

What is Bottled Water?

Bottled water is the broad term for any water that has been packed in a sealed container for human consumption. This can mean that the water is sourced from municipal supplies, aquifers or springs and it may be treated to make it suitable for human consumption.

Is Bottled Water Regulated in Canada?

Bottled water is regulated in Canada as a food and must comply with Food and Drugs Act. This act has specific regulations relating to bottled water in Division 12 of Part B. These regulations provide the definitions for the different types of bottled water, acceptable treatments, labelling requirements and microbiological standards.

Additionally, the Health Products and Foods Branch issues guidelines for bottled water based on microbiological surveys conducted throughout Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has the authority to test for bacteria should the manufacturer fail to comply with the regulations or have been involved in a food borne outbreak.

Who Has Responsibility for Bottled Water Regulations?

The federal responsibility for regulating the bottled water sold in Canada is shared between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has the responsibility to develop standards that relate to labeling, packaging, and advertising, and handles all the inspection and enforcement duties. Health Canada is responsible for establishing bottled water health and safety standards and labeling policies that relate to nutrition and health.

Are the Regulations Different For Bottled Water Compared to Tap Water?

Yes, municipally distributed tap water is regulated by the territory or province and bottled water is federally regulated as a food. Additionally, Health Canada is involved in Canadian Drinking Water Quality guideline development. These guidelines are developed with the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Drinking Water Committee and contain the maximum acceptable concentrations for chemical, radiological, physical and microbiological contaminants.

Is Canadian Bottled Water Safe?

In Canada, bottled water has an exceptional safety record. To date, there have been no waterborne disease outbreaks associated with bottled water in Canada. Health Canada has expressed confidence that current regulations for bottled water and the general provisions in the Food and Drugs Act are more than adequate to ensure bottled water products in Canada are safe. Nevertheless, these regulations are reviewed periodically to incorporate new scientific knowledge and research.

What Are the Considerations for Buying Bottled Water?

When choosing bottled water, you need to look beyond an attractive label. You should look at the manufacturer details, the location of the water source, chemical analysis and treatments applied. If you’re uncertain about the quality or source of bottled water, you should avoid bottles that have not been carbonated or disinfected.

You should also examine any bottles for broken seals or any debris in the water; the water should be crystal clear.

How Should I Store Bottled Water?

Bottled water should be kept in a cool, dry and clean environment that is out of direct sunlight. When your bottled water has been opened, it is recommended by Health Canada that any leftovers are refrigerated. If you are purchasing 18 litre bottles, they should be dispensed through a refrigerated cooler to avoid contamination.

A local water treatment specialist will be able to discuss your needs in greater detail and suggest a system that will suit your needs.