Consumers fume over bottled water saga

NEWSDAY readers have commended the Government Analyst Laboratory, which tested and condemned some brands of bottled water, for doing a sterling job.

Report by Phillip Chidavaenzi

Angry readers, reacting to the bottled water scandal exposed by this newspaper last week, dismissed excuses given by some bottlers on the contamination of their products and placed the blame squarely on the bottlers.

Some bottlers had sought to shift blame on to retailers, accusing them of poor handling and storage of the water.

“I find it amusing that the producers of the condemned mineral water seek to claim that the contamination of the water occured at the retailers. This water is supposed to be sealed and the seal broken only by the consumer. If the water can be contaminated before the seal is broken, then the Government Analyst Laboritory is right. It does not meet the safety standard,” one reader said on the NewsDay website.

Although some water traders, including Century Ice director Tim Chiganze and Aqua Crystal Beverages boss Clemence Chitura, argued that they would have preferred the water to be tested at the source, readers argued that the water was not sold at the source, but in retail shops.

“Chitura, we drink water bought from the supermarket not the source, so they (Government Analyst Laboratory) were right in testing water from the supermarket,” one Ngoni wrote on the website.

Another reader who wrote as Moyo said: “Chitura should appreciate that we don’t drink bottled water from the source, but we buy it from supermarkets. Century Water, too, is bad. I bought five litres of it at a supermarket at Newlands, Harare, and the following day it tasted bad.”

He said it was the bottlers’ responsibility to ensure that bottle caps were air-tight.

Jasper of Harare accused the bottlers of being motivated by profit: “The problem is that these bottlers are after money, so much that they do the unspeakable. They should remove their products from the shops.”

Another reader said the bottlers were hiding behind some technical jargon such as “reverse osmosis” to convince consumers that their water was perfect and urged the Government Analyst Laboratory to keep on testing the bottled water sold in shops.

The quality operations manager with Revive Beverages, Rumbidzai Shumba, insisted their water — Revive Purified Still Water, which was also condemned by the Government Analyst Laboratory as unfit for human consumption — was certified although not registered with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).

“We are not SAZ-certified, but we take our water there for testing, but we are certified with the Government Laboratory. We perform quality checks and we want to assure our customers that our water is safe,” she said.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said clean water was a basic right since it was a prerequisite to a healthy country.

“As advocates for the right to health in Zimbabwe, we note that provision of contaminated water both from the public or private sector is a violation of the right to clean water, right to health and a threat to human life,” the doctors said in a statement.

“The right to clean water is central to living a life in dignity and upholding human rights. It is, therefore, our contention that violators of these rights must be made to account for their transgressions.”

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