WATER bottlers whose products were condemned by the Government Analyst Laboratory as unfit for human consumption have questioned the credibility of the laboratory.
Report by Phillip Chidavaenzi
The government laboratory examined samples of bottled water from several suppliers following an inquiry by NewsDay and exposed seven of them as unsafe for drinking.
The water being sold under trade names Ad Life, Well Pure, Aqua Crystal, Century and Revive had harmful organisms and was not safe for drinking, while that sold under the names LeauChoisie and Aqualite had high chemical compositions.
The laboratory falls under the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and is responsible for all the tests required at government health institutions, and is accepted as reliable.
The laboratory is also responsible for administering the Food and Food Standards Act and is a National Regulatory Food and Water Testing Lab whose operations are benchmarked to ISO170725 standards for testing laboratories.
Clemence Chitura, an official with Aqua Crystal Beverages whose bottled water was condemned by the laboratory, told NewsDay yesterday that it was unfair to blame water bottlers for the contamination of bottled water which would have passed through many stages before reaching the consumer.
“We test all the water before it gets out onto the market. In the end, you just blame us without even considering how the retailers store the product. In this case, the Government Analyst Laboratory (which did the tests) should have called us and told us about this. We don’t do shortcuts and we would have been comfortable with tests done on water collected from the source, not the supermarket,” he said.
In a statement issued by his company, Chitura admitted that the water-testing procedure undertaken by the government laboratory was “clearly defined and meticulous”, but claimed this might not have been followed in this particular instance.
He complained that the NewsDay story had affected their business as some retailers had pulled the Aqua Crystal water bottles off their shelves.
Century Ice director Tim Chiganze, whose water was also deemed unsafe for human consumption, said last week that the possibility that some of the water was contaminated at the outlets from which it was sold could not be overruled.
Dairibord Zimbabwe chief operating officer Temba Mutsvairo said the company would give a detailed response later. The sample for their product, Aqualite Premium, failed the chemical analysis to determine its suitability for human consumption although it was okayed in the microbiological analysis.
“The zinc concentration of this water sample exceeded the maximum permissible limit according to the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality WHO (2008) Regulations. This water needs treatment before use,” read the government laboratory report on the Dairibord water.
Some of the condemned bottled water had been certified as safe by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.