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The Villages
Thursday, February 22, 2024

International Bottled Water Association objects to Dr. Mirkin’s warning about plastic

Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a Villager, is a columnist for Villages-News.com.

I am writing on behalf of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) regarding your article  by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, “Plastics in our food supply can cause harm.

This piece contains false and misleading claims about the safety and quality of bottled water. We request that you update your story to include the following important bottled water facts so that your readers are not misled about this safe, healthy, and convenient consumer product.

Dr. Mirkin’s article says: “Almost all cans contain plastic liners to prevent the metals in cans from leaching into the stored foods. Manufacturers of cans used for food put BPA into plastics to make them clear and strong. Many other bisphenols (called BPA replacements) are chemically similar to BPA. These plastics are also in all plastic bottles, particularly water bottles. Any plastic water bottles you drink from may contain BPA (emphasis added). Realize that North Americans consistently have BPA in their organs (Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol, 2019;125(S3):14-31) and 92.6 percent of North Americans have traces of BPA in their urine. Canned foods are felt to be one of the main sources of BPA, adding up to 6.6 micrograms per person per day of BPA (Environmental Health Perspectives, Jan 1, 2008).

The facts are: Bottled water is a food product, and, as such, the bottled water industry is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety of the food supply. FDA sets rules and guidelines regarding appropriate packaging material composition, properties, and uses for food contact. Packaging materials that meet FDA standards are considered FDA compliant and safe for use as a packaging material that comes into contact with food. FDA has determined that containers used by the bottled water industry are safe for use with food and beverage products—including bottled water—and they do not pose a health risk to consumers.

The most common bottled water containers (71% of the market) are individual-sized plastic bottles that are made from polyethlene terephthalate (PET) plastic. PET plastic does not contain bisphenols [and/or bisphenol A (BPA)]. Read more from this third-party source: https://petresin.org/plastics-manufacturers-reconfirm-pet-bottles-do-not-contain-bpa/. BPA is a compound used to make polycarbonate plastic (PC), which is a completely different type of plastic. PC is used in some refillable sports bottles, some food and beverage can liners and lids, and some home and office delivery 3- and 5-gallon water bottles, which represents less than 10% of the bottled water market. Based on the FDA’s ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available science continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging. FDA continues to consult with other expert agencies in the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health (and the National Toxicology Program), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDA also continues to participate in discussions with international regulatory and public health counterparts that are also engaged in assessing the safety of BPA. 

The FDA regulatory requirements for producing bottled water are comprehensive and stringent. Thus, it’s imperative that media organizations such as the Villages-News present clear, accurate, and factual information to readers.

We are also concerned that misleading consumers about the safety and quality of bottled water could deter consumers from drinking the healthiest packaged beverage on the shelf: bottled water. In 2023, bottled water outsold carbonated soft drinks (by volume) again, retaining its title as America’s favorite packaged beverage for the eighth year in a row.

Americans are making great efforts to live a better lifestyle by choosing healthier foods and beverages, and drinking water—tap, bottled, or filtered—should be encouraged. With the high rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in our on-the-go society, bottled water provides a safe, healthy, and, as is noted in your story, convenient beverage choice. The consumption of water—whether from the bottle, tap, or filter—is a good thing, and any actions that discourage people from drinking bottled water are not in the public interest.

Jill Culora is vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association.

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