Bottled water gets dirty rap

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.

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

Aquafina bottles.

The report also charged several other Massachusetts water-bottling firms

with having used water that came from a contaminated spring under a

parking lot.

?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."

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