SAN DIEGO -- Quality Assurance International here recently announced the launch of a new program -- the Certified Source for Bottled Water Products -- designed to ensure the authenticity of sourcing claims made on bottled water labels.
The program will adhere to internationally recognized standards set forth by Codex, a joint project of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
For the past 12 years, QAI has built its reputation as a global player in the organic foods certification industry. Expansion into the $35 billion bottled water industry was a natural fit.
"There is a worldwide move toward verification and traceability of the source of bottled water products, and an increasing need to authenticate that source through a third party," said Joe Smillie, senior vice president of QAI, in a prepared statement.
"Independent certification has been the business of QAI since its inception, and the new Certified Source program is in line with QAI's mission of assuring authenticity of essential consumer products from source to table."
According to Ellen Holton, project manager in business development for QAI, the verification process will provide participating manufacturers a heightened degree of confidence and accountability concerning sourcing claims in the minds of consumers. "Depending upon what state you're in, you may be 50 or 60 miles away from the source and still make that claim," she said. "This makes the label more credible."
This will also ease the minds of consumers concerning recent incidents of mislabeled bottled water in the San Diego area, she added.
Bottled water labeling is strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as well as by various state organizations, and transporting the water from its original site is permissible under these guidelines. According to Stephen Kay, spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association, Alexandria, Va., many rural sources are subject to zoning and environmental regulations that do not allow for the immediate proximity of a bottling plant. Yet the end product must always contain the characteristics of the water as it emerged from that source.
However, he recognized the potential of source verification for those manufacturers looking for an added value proposition to put on the label.
"If brand mangers feel that this adds value to their brand, then it is certainly a valuable service to them," he said.