According to a new law set to be effective next month throughout the European Union, water sold in bottles in any of the 27 member countries is no longer allowed to claim that the product is able to prevent dehydration. Penalties for labeling and selling bottled water as such could result in a two-year jail sentence.
In what seems to be more a semantics debate at its core, the decision came after German scientists submitted a claim to the EU Food Standards Authority requesting the ability to label bottled water as "preventing" dehydration. But after review, the Commission made a decision stating that drinking water can reduce "the risk" of dehydration, but cannot necessarily prevent it.
German professors Dr. Andreas Hagn and Dr. Moritz Hagenmeyer who advise food manufacturers on promotional and advertising angles as it relates to product efficacy, made the request to the European Commission in what was essentially a test request to assess the legality of claims intended for more controversial products such as those that they aim to get labeled as "reducing the risk of certain diseases." The bottled water request was submitted as stating that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.”
According to The Telegraph, the decision came last February after 21 scientists determined that dehydration could already be underway in the body and the consumption of drinking water could not necessarily rectify it, and the law will go into effect next month.
Bottled water is controversial on a number of fronts, including sustainability concerns from the excessive packaging used in single-serve bottles and the risk of BPA (bisphenol-A) exposure, which has been linked to a number of human health risks.
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