New Rule Looks to Curb E. Coli Germs in Bottled Water (Update1)

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By Catherine Larkin

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- Makers of bottled water including Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. will face tougher U.S. standards to prevent contamination with E. coli bacteria.

Beginning Dec. 1, companies must test source water weekly for the germs, as required for finished bottled water products, according to a notice posted today on the Food and Drug Administration’s Web site. If water tests positive for E. coli, bottlers must document how they eliminated the bacteria and retest samples before it can be used.

E. coli, an indicator of fecal contamination, can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea or life-threatening infections. The new bottled water policies, first proposed in September, were designed to meet standards the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set for public drinking water in 2006, the FDA said.

“Bottled water containing E. coli will be considered adulterated, and source water containing E. coli will not be considered to be of a safe, sanitary quality and will be prohibited from use in the production of bottled water,” the FDA wrote in the notice.

The 19 comments submitted to the FDA were mostly supportive of the proposal, the White Oak, Maryland-based agency said.



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