ONLY 11 out of 30 different brands of bottled water sold in the country were registered with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) after meeting the minimum standards required for drinking water, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare heard in Harare yesterday.
SAZ quality assurance director Sebastian Zuze told the committee that the 11 registered brands — Schweppes, Aqua Crystal, Rainbow Beverages, Chomopack, Ad Life, Mukati Investments, Tanganda, ZLG, Zinwa, Dairiboard and Reg Mark — have followed due process of registration after undergoing rigorous laboratory tests.
He said SAZ was now reaching out to players in the retail sector to impress upon them the need to sell water that met acceptable standards.
“One of the things we have done is to reach out to the retail association. We have also reached out to the people who do the labels and told them not to print labels without a SAZ mark for any company and we have also forwarded names of suspended companies to the Food Safety Advisory Board,” he said.
“What is happening is that the services we offer as SAZ are voluntary, so you find that some suppliers choose not to register with SAZ for the reason that they can then bypass standards.
Currently there is no law that compels them to register, but to register with the Food Safety Advisory Board is a requirement.” Zuze said his association verified the authenticity of the declared source of water by manufacturers and they have since taken interest in borehole water.
Environmental Management Agency director general Mutsa Chasi said three years ago they went into supermarkets and randomly picked different brands of bottled water for testing.
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“Most of it was underground water, especially from Manicaland, and as we did chemical sampling, we found out the water was also having faecal matter. Of the 13 brands that we tested, only Schweppes had no faecal matter,” she said.
“For boreholes, it was more of chemical pollution and we found in most cases the PH was not within the permissible limit, although only one out of 14 boreholes in Harare had no faecal matter.”