Samples tested against all four of the microbiological standards in the legislation resulted in 2.5 per cent being unsatisfactory for one or more microbiological standard(s) in the legislation compared with a similar survey undertaken in 2007 when the figure was seven per cent.
“However there is still room for improvement because four of the 748 samples taken were deemed unsafe and were recalled from the market,” reports the FSAI.
Four samples were found to contain E. coli and/or Enerococci, groups of bacteria that are considered the best indicator of the safety of bottled water. The affected batches were removed from the market.
Eleven tested positive for coliforms which indicated possible poor hygiene during the bottling process or poor quality source water.
The samples in the latest survey were taken from a range of retail outlets and bottled water manufacturers around the country between September and December 2010.
An updated national hygiene standard is now available for the safe and hygienic production of bottled water while the survey also indicated the need to improve labelling with some 55 per cent of water samples labelled as natural mineral water or spring water being non-compliant with respect to labelling legislation.
Under the legislation certain bottled water requires the name of the spring and the place where the spring is exploited to be on the label when marketing such products as natural mineral or spring water. Of the 323 water samples labelled as natural mineral water (183) or spring water (140) only 45 per cent carried both of these statements.