Recently FSSAI has become aware of media reports which have pointed out that packaged drinking water is being sold in the market without FSSAI license. The names of some well-known packaged drinking water brands like Bisleri, Kinley, and Aquafina were named as offenders in the reports. In this connection, FSSAI has reiterated that all packaged drinking water manufacturers must keep in mind the following.
- Packaged drinking water is covered under the definition of food under the FSS Act 2006. Therefore as provisioned in section 31 of the FSS Act all Food Business Operators (FBOs) require License or Registration before commencing any food business which also includes packaged drinking water.
- FSSAI has made it mandatory for packaged drinking water to be certified under the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Under the FSSAI (Prohibition and Restriction on sale) Regulations, 2011 the FSSAI makes it clear that “a person shall manufacture, sell, exhibit for sale packaged drinking water except under Bureau of Indian Standards Certification.”
- BIS certification for packaged drinking water, which is different from packaged natural mineral water, was made mandatory on 29 March 2001 under the provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA). At this time the FSS Act had not even become operationalized.
It is the Bureau of Indian Standards that has formulated Indian Standard (IS) for packaged drinking water and packaged natural mineral water. BIS certificate is granted only after water test reports from a NABL certified laboratory finds the water to be within the BIS limits for microbiological, physical and chemical contaminants. However, since FSSAI is the food regulator in the country no FBO can manufacture packaged drinking water without FSSAI license and no license can be obtained without the BIS certificate. Therefore all major players make sure they have the BIS certifications to avoid any cancellation of FSSAI licenses.
The media reports accelerated the FSSAI officials to hold a meeting with BIS officers and representatives of packaged drinking water manufacturers from PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Bisleri. In response to the media reports, the company representatives refuted the report and claimed that their manufacturing or processing plants for packaged drinking water were all licensed by FSSAI and were BIS certified. The FSSAI directed the FBOs to submit the details of their manufacturing and processing units as also the details of all third-party manufacturers or processors.
On verification, the FSSAI found that all these packed drinking water manufactures had valid FSSAI licenses as well as BIS certification. The FSSAI concluded that these manufacturers were all in compliance with the regulations. FSSAI is also undertaking to check the licenses and certifications of other packaged drinking water manufacturers. Through a press note, the FSSAI has assured the public that they are taking all actions to ensure the quality and safety of all packaged drinking water sold in the country.
Bottled water is one of India’s fastest-growing industries in India. The increase in the number of domestic and foreign tourists is one of the major drivers for bottled water sales in India. Also, bulk packaged drinking water is sold in the domestic market on a large scale because of lack of faith in the purity of water supplied by municipalities.