How can we possibly know if we are drinking what a bottled water label advertises?

Last year, Consumer Reports informed that Poland Spring bottled water was a “colossal fraud.” The publication conveyed: “The group of plaintiffs claim that Nestlé has been selling common bottled groundwater under the Poland Spring brand since 1993 and illegally mislabeling it ‘100% Natural Spring Water.’”

So how can we possibly know if we are drinking what a bottled water label advertises?

The Food and Drug Administration’s verbiage concerning spring water is clear: “Derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface, this water must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole that taps the underground formation feeding the spring. If some external force is used to collect the water through a borehole, the water must have the same composition and quality as the water that naturally flows to the surface.”

Other bottled water companies allege vitamins, flavorings or infusions. Again, FDA has comprehensive standards — even though Poland Springs apparently slipped through the cracks. The agency states: “The bottled water ingredients of these flavored and nutrient-added water beverages must meet the bottled water requirements … the flavorings and nutrients added to these beverages must comply with all applicable FDA safety requirements and they must be identified in the ingredient list on the label.”

But are the health claims of some bottled waters bogus — or worth the price?
Hydrogen-rich water, in which protons and electrons are added to regular water, has been consumed in Japan since the 1960s but has made its way into the American marketplace in recent months. Companies selling hydrogen-rich water tout it for skin-perfecting, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. 

Alkaline water, as well, is a recent rage. Normal drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7. Alkaline water typically has a higher pH. Some assert that alkaline water benefits people with such conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Health experts express and studies show that the science is weak behind claims of anything other than plain old tap water — properly filtered — providing extra energy, age-defying properties, cancer-fighting advantages or more.

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