Feature Articles: Eating Well
Water: Bottled or Tap?
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,
There is no doubt that water is a calorie-free and healthful as a recommended drink of choice. The question some people ask is whether bottled water is actually better for you than regular tap water. Both tap and bottled water are highly regulated so it really comes down to a matter of personal preference and taste.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water and sets standards for contaminant levels in drinking water. All municipal water systems serving 25 or more people are tested regularly for up to 118 chemicals and bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water as a food product. Bottled water is subject to FDA’s food safety and labeling requirements. Included in these requirements is the bottled water standard of quality which is as stringent as EPA’s standards for public water supplies. Bottled water is also regulated by state and trade association standards.
The Food and Drug Administration classifies bottled water
based on where it came from and includes the following
- Artesian well water- This is water from a well that taps an aquifer. An aquifer is layers of porous rock, sand and earth that contain water which is under pressure from surrounding upper layers of rock and clay. When tapped, the pressure in the aquifer pushes the water above the level of the aquifer. Water from artesian aquifers is sometimes thought to be more pure because the layers of rock and clay interfere with the movement of contamination but there is no guarantee of the purity of artesian water.
- Mineral water- This is water from an underground source that contains 250 parts per million of dissolved solids. Minerals and trace elements must come from the source of the underground water.
- Spring water- Comes from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the earth’s surface.
- Well water- Water from a hole bored or drilled into the ground, which taps into an aquifier
There are times when bottled water is recommended. On a camping trip when you are unsure of the safety of the water, during a flood or natural disaster, or in the rare event of contamination of a well or public water supply.
It is recommended that all households maintain an emergency supply of water to include one gallon per person per day for three days for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. If you are storing tap water, it should be stored in plastic, glass, fiberglass, or enamel-lined metal containers. The containers need to be sealed tightly, labeled and stored in a cool dark place and rotated every six months.
The FDA has not established a shelf life for bottled water but it is stamped for two years. If the product has been packaged according to FDA guidelines and stored properly, the shelf life should remain intact indefinitely.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009