Chinese media recently exposed quality issues in the bottled water industry, saying its regulation levels are from the Soviet era.
Beijing News reported May 2 that over 10 Chinese experts had found that the standards for bottled water are very low, with only 20 test indices versus 106 for tap water quality.
Research by professor Ye Xingqian at Zhejiang University showed that the bottled water standard for microbes is comparatively low, according to the report. A quality-control official from a Guangdong beverage company told the media that most companies operate with the aim of not “making people sick.”
The article said that several indices for toxins, including mercury, silver, and formaldehyde, are not included in the national standards for bottled water, and neither are pH value or water hardness. Instead of being available to the public, the data is withheld as “commercial secrets,” the report said, adding that every new standard’s emergence or disappearance involves the interests of large companies.
The report is a follow-up to an April article by the Beijing Times, which alleged that one of China’s biggest bottled water manufacturers, Nongfu Spring, has looser criteria than the national tap water standards for a number of factors, including arsenic and cadmium.
This is the latest food safety controversy, following recent milk powder and liquor quality problems.
An internet user from Shanxi blogged: “Now that we can’t drink bottled water or tap water, what should we drink?”
Jin Qing, a former employee at a Chongqing water plant, told The Epoch Times that insiders in the industry would rather boil tap water than buy bottled water.
“Bottled water in China is modified tap water, but the purification process hasn’t reached a high standard yet,” he said. “A large number of harmful chemicals are added, some of which may even cause cancer.”
Jin said that in China it is difficult to trace people’s health issues back to the water, unless a particular source has affected a lot of people. “It is alright as long as there is no problem with color or taste.”
Ms. Chen, financial manager of a Shanghai food company, told The Epoch Times that people cannot make money if they work honestly.
“Everyone in this society is doing the same,” she said. “If Nongfu Spring were to meet the standards, I’m sure they would go broke.”
“These are the rules of the game.”
Translation by Yang Zhang. Written in English by Cassie Ryan
Read the original Chinese article.