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BACTERIA NOT A PROBLEM IN BOTTLED WATER DISPENSERS

 BACTERIA NOT A PROBLEM IN BOTTLED WATER DISPENSERS
 WASHINGTON, May 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Bottled


Water Association (IBWA) strongly rejects the substance and validity of research presented by Northeastern University Professor Fred Rosenberg and EPCO, Inc., a manufacturer of water cooler treatment equipment. The IBWA's own extensive studies in this area, conducted by Yale University School of Medicine, support the conclusion that bottled water drawn from dispensers contains no harmful bacteria and poses no public health concern.
 Lisa Prats, the IBWA's vice president, states that "all credible evidence on the subject to date underscores the basic safety benefits consumers can continue to expect from their bottled water dispensers."
 The IBWA's refutation of Rosenberg's assertions follows:
 -- Rosenberg suggests that bottled water from dispensers can cause illness. In fact, bottled water dispensers contain no harmful bacteria that could be injurious to health. There have been no reports of bottled water causing an illness outbreak. This is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health departments.
 -- Rosenberg claims that bacteria from dispensers puts certain individuals at risk (elderly, infants, people with AIDS or on chemotherapy). However, according to Dr. Stephen Edberg, under whose direction the Yale study was conducted, this is medically unfounded. "Stomach acidity should kill any naturally occurring, non-pathogenic bacteria. Stomach acidity is not affected by one's immune status," said Edberg, an internationally recognized microbiologist in the field of water quality.
 -- Rosenberg contends that bottled water dispensers may contain excess levels of bacteria. Yet, the Yale study showed that harmful bacteria are not present in bottled water dispensers. "Bacteria isolated during the water dispenser study were benign," said Edberg, commenting on his study. There is a significant difference between benign and harmful bacteria, and Rosenberg incorrectly suggests that there are dangers to public health. "All water has a natural bacterial content. The water dispenser bacteria were consistent with the natural non-pathogenic bacteria that are always found in nature," added Edberg.
 -- Rosenberg noted that, in his opinion, non-coliform bacteria levels for drinking water should not exceed 500 organisms per milliliter. His research allegedly showed counts ranging from 2,000 to 1 million organisms in water from dispensers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and FDA have stated, however, that non- coliform bacteria in drinking water is of no public health concern. (The absence of coliform is the universal standard for drinking water quality). Consequently, both agencies have rejected setting a limit on the number of these organisms allowed in drinking water.
 Curtis Coker, chief, Food and Cosmetic Safety Section, Division of Regulatory Guidance, FDA (who today was quoted in USA TODAY as saying that bacteria levels over 10,000 could be a possible concern), elaborated stating that "elevated bacteria levels do not necessarily mean that pathogens are present, or that it would be harmful to consume the water, and I wouldn't expect to find these elevated levels of bacteria in bottled water." IBWA agrees and further believes this is because dispensers do not provide an environment where harmful bacteria can readily grow.
 -- Finally, the high bacteria counts reported by Rosenberg are based on sampling and analysis apparently performed by a laboratory that may not be certified to perform drinking water analyses. IBWA requests that Rosenberg's sampling results be confirmed by a certified laboratory authorized to conduct drinking water analyses to assure that the requisite testing and analytical steps have been done correctly in accordance with EPA-approved methods and protocols.
 As is true with any appliance, such as a coffee maker used in association with foods or beverages, water dispensers must be maintained for cleanliness on a regular basis. The bottled water industry recommends that dispenser reservoirs should be cleaned periodically with a mild mixture of household bleach and water. This procedure will safely sanitize the bottled water dispenser.
 In addition, virtually all food contains some level of natural bacteria (flora). The lack of naturally occurring bacteria is evidence of the presence of some bacteriocidal agent (i.e. chlorine, iodine, etc.). Standards for organisms in foods are typically based on spoilage. Bottled water doesn't "spoil" unless some outside source of nutrient is added. Foods typically containing bacteria are:
 -- Vegetables (100,000 organisms/gram)
 -- Egg products (200,000 organisms/gram)
 -- Hamburger (5,000,000 organisms/gram)
 -- Pasteurized milk (30,000 organisms/milliliter)
 -- Cheese (1,000,000,000 organisms/gram)
 Water coolers do not provide a suitable environment for the growth of pathogenic (harmful) bacteria. Pathogens have adapted to grow in human (or animal) hosts, and require temperatures and nutrients not found in water coolers.
 Bottled water is thoroughly regulated and tested pursuant to FDA standards as required under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Quality standards and good manufacturing practices ensure the safety of all bottled water products from packaging to consumption. Bottled water must meet all health-based drinking water standards established under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
 IBWA is the trade association for the bottled water industry. Its members represent over 85 percent of U.S. bottled water sales. Members' facilities are inspected annually by a third-party inspection agency, the National Sanitation Foundation International, to assure their products meet health standards.
 -0- 5/28/92
 /CONTACT: Lisa Prats or Jane Lazgin for the International Bottled Water Association, 703-683-5213/ CO: International Bottled Water Association ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:


DC -- DC028 -- 4934 05/28/92 16:46 EDT
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 28, 1992
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