danger denied in Irish water safety response
By Neil Merrett,
Source of Article: http://www.beveragedaily.com/Industry-Markets/Consumer-danger-denied-in-Irish-water-safety-response
of bottled mineral water products in Ireland maintain that the public
faced no danger from its products during a 2007 investigation by authorities
into potential product contamination.
Reports appearing this
week in the Irish Times newspaper alleged that documents obtained under the
country’s Freedom of Information Act found food safety authorities had failed
to act immediately in notifying the public over product safety.
The report claimed
that the correspondence found official concern that the general public had
not been alerted at the time over the contamination of some branded waters
with pathogens such as E. coli.
The Food Safety
Authority of Ireland (FSAI) refused to comment on the reports, pointing
BeverageDaily.com to findings it had published in December suggesting any
potentially dangerous products had been immediately removed from the market.
“A number of
non-compliances were found and at the time were corrected immediately, with a
number of bottled waters withdrawn from the market and corrective actions
taken by the industry,” stated the FSAI
in its findings.
Trade association, the
Beverage Council of Ireland (BCI), which represents bottling groups, said it
had been working with both the FSAI and National Standards Authority of
Ireland (NSAI) in ensuring standards on bottled waters.
In a statement, the
BCI claimed that although the standard IS 432 had been adhered to for years,
the association was working with the same authorities to review the current
regulations, the FSAI claimed that consumers had not been at danger from
consuming products sold on the market.
FSAI chief executive
Dr John O’Brien, said that December’s report formed
part of a regular microbiological surveillance over a specific time to
combine data supplied by environmental health officers (EHOs)
to review past inspections of previous findings. O’Brien claimed that a
minority of the 952 products tested in the country were not in compliance
with European Commission regulations on microbiological criteria for mineral,
spring and other bottled waters.
“We do not wait until
a report is compiled – if foods are found that are not compliant with the
food safety legislation, then immediate action is taken,” he stated. “The
report gives a snap shot of bottled water on the market in 2007 where a small number of
samples 10 out of 952 (1 per cent) were detected with E. coli – 99 per cent were found to be compliant.”
According to the EHOs, 6.3 per cent of surveyed products sampled did
contain the coliform bacteria
that is linked to hygiene concerns at the source of bottling plants.
FSAI added that the bacteria was not a clear indication that consumer health
was at risk, but that any contamination as unacceptable and had been dealt