NEEDHAM, MA - Following a report by Massachusetts State Senator Cheryl Jacques that accused the state of failing to regulate bottled water, PR pros have been left to scramble to undo the damage.
In the report, Jacques faulted Aquafina and Dasani (produced by
PepsiCola and Coca- Cola, respectively) for using water that comes from
a public water supply without stating the source - although ?PWS,? an
industry term for public water supply, is printed on the caps of
The report also charged several other Massachusetts water-bottling firms
with having used water that came from a contaminated spring under a
?The Senator?s reference to Aquafina is absolutely incorrect,? said
PepsiCola director of PR Larry Jabbonski, adding that its products are
in compliance with Massachusetts regulations. ?She was doing the public
a disservice by seriously misrepresenting the facts.? Jabbonski added
that Pepsi invited Jacques and her committee to tour its facility in
Ayer, MA, prior to the release of the report, but she declined.
In addition, the report cited information from a four-year study
released in February 1999 by the Natural Resources Defense Council,
which claimed that bottled water is not necessarily of better quality or
healthier than municipal tap water; that federal and state regulations
governing bottled water are weak; and that bottled water marketing and
labeling can be misleading.
According to Stephen Kay, VP of communications for the International
Bottled Water Association (IBWA), Jacques? report cast an unfair light
on the entire industry. To counter the report, the IBWA is reinforcing
the message that bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug
Administration, which specifically defines standards of identity and
quality as well as labeling requirements for bottled water.
?The IBWA is continuing to share the facts about bottled water - that
it?s good quality, safe, convenient and has a good taste,? said Kay.
While the report was specific to Massachusetts, the IBWA decided to
respond by issuing a national statement. "Oftentimes, bad news makes the headlines," said Kay. "It's why we felt that it was important to go on
record with the facts about bottled water."