Nestlé Waters North America agrees with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that people have a right to know where their water comes from and what’s in it – and they should be able to easily find that information. In fact, we think it is a brand advantage to make quality information – from source to processing to contents – easily accessible to consumers. This information supports the confidence people have in our product quality.
Our labels and packaging are the gateways to the full extent of the water quality information about our brands:
- Water Source Identification: We identify spring and purified water sources on all of our bottled water brand labels. In the case of three- and five-gallon products used in homes and offices, source and quality information can be found on every cap.
- Quality Reports: Since 2005, we have made detailed water quality reports publicly available for all of our brands. These reports are comparable to those published by public water utilities and are based on independent testing results from certified laboratories.
- Easy Access to Information: All our labels, with the exception of three- and five-gallon products, include a toll-free phone number and website address to find quality testing results. Three- and five- gallon products provide a toll-free phone number on every cap. Online reports allow us to convey information in a clear, thorough manner that a small label cannot.
EWG’s scorecard, released on January 5, 2011 attempts to catalogue and rank the information printed on bottled water product labels. The Nestlé Waters North America brands evaluated received grades from a “B” to a “D,” and it is gratifying to know that the EWG report found absolutely no violations of any federal labeling laws and regulations for any bottled water product.
What is disconcerting about the scorecard, however, is that its peculiar rating system leads to inaccurate conclusions as to the steps we take to lead people to water quality reports for our brands.
For example, every one of our labels provides consumers with the means to access complete water quality information, yet EWG’s scorecard suggests that some of our domestic spring water brands are rated in the “D” category because they do not do so. Contact information to access detailed quality reports can be found on every Nestlé Waters product.
Adopting Further Steps in Transparent Labeling
Notwithstanding our disagreement with EWG’s scoring method, we intend to use this report as an opportunity to spark an accurate and complete dialogue on the water we drink, and to focus on the main point on which EWG and Nestlé Waters agree: People have a right to know what is in their water.
We think that can be best achieved by finding one best way to do so, across the country. EWG’s scorecard holds up California as the standard for the best reporting law. We agree.
- Within the next few months, labels on all 1/2 liter Nestlé Waters products, (which account for about 80 percent of our single serve sales) will state the source of the water and two ways for consumers to obtain "a report on water quality." All other sizes will implement this change over the course of 2011, with the exception of three- and five-gallon products, which will follow.
- We have publicly endorsed U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg's call for a federal standard for all bottled water companies to communicate water quality – from water resources to test results – in a transparent way, and will continue our discussions with his staff as they draft legislation to do so.
Nestlé Waters comments further on the EWG scorecard:
Our Quality Process
All our products come from carefully selected sources, use state-of-the-art filtration and quality control processes, and are bottled in sanitary conditions. In high-risk areas like bacteriological contamination and lead, our standards meet FDA regulations that are more stringent than the EPA’s standards for tap water.
Nestlé Waters tests more than 200 times per bottling line every day to meet FDA standards, as well as Nestlé Waters’ own quality standards. Our bottling plants undergo independent annual inspection and are also subject to both state and federal regulations.
- The FDA has strict bottled water Standards of Identity that require labels correctly classify different types of bottled water, such as spring, purified and distilled water.
- All packaged foods and beverage products, including bottled water, have extensive labeling requirements including the name and place of business of the manufacturer.