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FDA to recall more bottled water in bromate scare

By Chris Mercer , 24-Aug-2006

America's food safety watchdog is expected to announce the recall of several bottled water drinks, thought to contain cancer-causing bromate above the legal limit in the US, BeverageDaily.com has learned.

The recall is expected to involve a range of private label bottled waters taken from the Springbrook Springs source in Concord, New York, including water sold by the TopCo co-operative under its Food Club brand.

Long-term exposure to bromate may increase consumers' risk of cancer, according to the US government's Environmental Protection Agency.

The news comes only a couple of weeks after upmarket US retailer Wegmans recalled its Food You Feel Good About Spring Water because of bromate.

Company tests confirmed some drinks contained bromate up to two-and-a-half times the level considered safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Wegmans, which also uses the Springbrook Springs source, was alerted to the problem with its water by an independent lab, which claimed it found bromate levels in the drink at 27 and 28 parts per billion (ppb). The FDA maximum is 10ppb.

That same lab said it found a similar problem with some other bottled waters, including TopCo's Food Club, using the same source.

FDA scientists have been investigating the problem, and several retailers are thought to be involved.

Wegmans had warned rivals to be on their guard after its own recall. "It does not affect other brands sold at Wegmans, but it does affect other brands produced by the same supplier for other retailers," the group said.

The FDA has so far declined to comment on the issue, but an announcement is expected soon. The companies involved were also unable to comment at the time of publishing.

There is thought to be no immediate risk to consumers' health.

The issue throws up yet another problem for drinks makers after revelations about benzene in soft drinks earlier this year.

The man behind the independent lab tests for bromate in water was lawyer Ross Getman, the same man who first alerted the FDA to the continuing presence of benzene in some soft drinks.

He praised Wegmans for its speedy response over bromate. "Wegmans has demonstrated how a responsible corporation acts in connection with consumer health."

Bromate is formed in water when ozone and bromide ions react together. The chances of bromate in water are higher when ozone is used as a disinfectant for mineral water, and especially in the presence of calcium chloride, which is a bromide derivative.

Guidelines on how to avoid bromate in water have been published by the International Ozone Association.

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