Bacteria Found in Bottled Water

Published: May 26th 2010
in News » Local


According to Canadian researchers, some bottled water in Canada contains more bacteria than tap water, though they won’t reveal the actual names of the brands in question.


C-crest Laboratories in Montreal bought and tested several popular brands of bottled water, finding “surprisingly high” levels of heterotrophic bacteria.


According to researchers, heterotrophic bacteria require an organic carbon source to grow and multiply.


More than 70 per cent of brands tested did not meet United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards, an agency that sets safety regulations for medication and healthcare products. It is not affiliated with the government.


According to the USP, no more than 500 colony forming units (cfu) of bacteria per millilitre should be present in drinking water.


Some brands were found to have as much as 70,000 cfu per milliliter, according to Sonish Azam, a researcher on the study.


Interestingly, the average number of colony forming units in tested tap water samples was 170 per millilitre, said Azam.


"Despite having the cleanest tap water, a large number of urban Canadians are switching over to bottled water for their daily hydration requirements," Azam told the Vancouver Sun. "The consumer assumes that since bottled water carries a price tag, it is purer and safer than most tap water."


Although researchers say the type of bacteria found in the bottled water does not pose any sort of threat to a healthy human being, it could very well have effects on pregnant women, infants, and the elderly.


It is also important to note that no actual germs were found in the tested varieties of bottled water – but that Canada should probably change their regulations, researchers said, as currently, Health Canada has not yet set an acceptable limit for heterotrophic bacteria in bottled water, and neither has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Although Health Canada does regulate bottled water, the regulations state only that water must be free of disease-causing organisms.


According to a statement released by Health Canada, a recently conducted World Health Organization study concluded that "heterotrophic bacteria counts in drinking water are not a health concern to the general public."


The idea to research the cfu levels of bottled water emerged when an employee at the pharmaceutical lab said their bottled water tasted bad, and complained of feeling sick afterwards.


"Bottled water is not expected to be free from micro-organisms but the (colony forming unit count) observed in this study is surprisingly very high," said Azam. "Therefore, it is strongly recommended to establish a limit for the heterotrophic bacteria count as well as to identify the nature of micro-organisms present in the bottled water."

Related articles: (bottled water, bacteria)
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