The European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW) claims that a new draft guide to good hygienic practices for EU packaged water will promote better industry image, while providing guidance to new member states in particular to develop their own guides.
EFBW secretary general Patricia Fosselard attended the May 15 presentation to the European Commission (EC) Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH), where, according to the EC, the federation presented the guide alongside a Coca-Cola representative.
She told BeverageDaily.com that a further meeting was scheduled on June 18 to discuss the guide further.
The 134-page guide – which covers natural mineral water, spring water and bottled drinking water, but does not cover flavoured waters or waters with added ingredients other than CO2 – was drafted by quality managers from the likes of Danone, Nestlé Waters, Coca-Cola, AG Barr and Spadel, Alma Group and Ferrarelle.
Once endorsed by the Commission, national enforcement authorities across European member states must take the new guide, which also draws on ideas in some existing national documents (from the UK and Italy, for instance), into account.
New HACCP principles
“The EFBW did have a guide, but it did not reflect the latest changes in food safety and hygiene regulations – it did not incorporate HACCP principles, for instance, which is why we undertook this work,” Fosselard said.
The legislation in question includes the revision to CODEX standards for bottled/packaged waters other than natural mineral waters, and EC regulations 178/2002 and 852/2004 on food safety and hygiene.
Regulation 1935/2004 on food contact materials and updated World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on drinking water quality in 2004 also prompted the EFBW update.
The EFBW explained – in its May 15 SCFCAH presentation sent to BeverageDaily.com – that the new code of practice aimed for improved implementation of food safety and hygiene standards (fewer recalls), increased credibility and a better industry image, useful guidance for new EU members.
Existing documents at EFBW level included two unseen good practice guides – one for natural mineral waters, the other for natural mineral waters and spring waters, with the last revision in 2001.
Summer endorsement pending
Fosselard told this publication: “You need to identify critical control points – the purpose of the guide was to describe to membership, the very best practices in all respect, when it comes to bottling: from the catchment area until exit from the factory. It’s very detailed.”
“We presented the guide at the SCFCAH meeting on May 15, and one member state [the UK] had not had time to review it, so it’s scheduled now for endorsement at the meeting on June 18.”
The main objectives of the guide are to help EFBW national trade associations develop their own guides, help water bottlers meet applicable hygiene requirements and encourage the packaged water industry to develop its own quality and food safety management systems.
The guide covers (1) General Aspects of Quality & Food Safety Management (2) Pre-requisite programs (3) Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and (4) References, with “emerging topics” such as food defense, bio-vigilance and bioterrorism also covered.