Reading between the lines: bottle labels

You may not know it, but not just any water in a bottle can be called “bottled water.”  Bottled water is considered a consumer food product by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has strict standards of identity for bottled water. The FDA requires that the “type” of water must be clearly printed on the label of all bottled water sold in the United States.

Artesian Water/Artesian Well Water

Bottled water from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand) in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.

Drinking Water

Drinking water is another name for bottled water. Accordingly, drinking water is water that is sold for human consumption in sanitary containers and contains no added sweeteners or chemical additives (other than flavors, extracts or essences). It must be calorie-free and sugar-free. Flavors, extracts or essences may be added to drinking water, but they must comprise less than one percent by weight of the final product or the product will be considered a soft drink. Drinking water may be sodium-free or contain very low amounts of sodium.

Mineral Water

Bottled water containing not less than 250 parts per million total dissolved solids may be labeled as mineral water. Mineral water is distinguished from other types of bottled water by its constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source. No minerals can be added to this product.

Purified Water

Water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes and that meets the definition of purified water in the United States Pharmacopoeia may be labeled as purified bottled water. Other suitable product names for bottled water treated by one of the above processes may include “distilled water” if it is produced by distillation, “deionized water” if the water is produced by deionization, or “reverse osmosis water” if the process used is reverse osmosis. Alternatively “_____________ drinking water” can be used with the blank being filled in with one of the terms defined in this paragraph (e.g. “purified drinking water” or “distilled drinking water”).

Sparkling Water

Water that, after treatment and possible replacement with carbon dioxide, contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had at emergence from the source. (An important note: soda water, seltzer water and tonic water are not considered bottled waters. They are regulated separately, may contain sugar and calories, and are considered soft drinks.)

Spring Water

Bottled water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. Spring water must be collected only at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation finding the spring. Spring water collected with the use of an external force must be from the same underground stratum as the spring and must have all the physical properties, before treatment, and be of the same composition and quality as the water that flows naturally to the surface of the earth.

Well Water

Well Water is water from a hole bored, drilled, or otherwise constructed in the ground, which taps the water aquifer.