Food Law News - EU - 2007

FSA Local Authority Letter (ENF/E/07/022), 16 March 2007

WATER - Natural Mineral Water – UK response to Commission questionnaire regarding the revision of certain limits prescribed by Commission Directive 2003/40/EC

Note: The full letter, including the list of UK recognised Natural Mineral Waters, is available on this site, LA Water Letter, as well as the questionnaire, LA Water Questionnaire (word doc).

The European Commission is currently reviewing the limits for certain chemicals in natural mineral water and is seeking information from both large and small producers on the potential effects of any changes. The Food Standards Agency is therefore contacting local authorities requesting that they supply the necessary information for any natural mineral water producers for which they have responsibility.

The recognition of natural mineral water sources within the UK is the responsibility of the Local Authority for the source location (i.e. District Councils, London Borough Councils), under Regulation 4 of the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water Regulations 1999 (as amended) (SI No. 1999/1540). If you have a recognised natural mineral water source in your area or a current application for recognition of a source, the Agency requests your assistance in responding to the attached questionnaire from the European Commission regarding the possible revision of certain limits prescribed for natural mineral waters.

Commission Directive 2003/40/EC established the list, concentration limits and labelling requirements for the constituents of natural mineral waters. These constituents may be naturally present in certain natural mineral waters because of their hydrogeological origin, although if present above the prescribed limit they might present a risk to public health. The requirements of this Directive were transposed into English law by Statutory Instrument No. 2004/656, with equivalent amendments in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .

The Agency will collate the information provided by local authorities and produce a UK response to the Commission. The information submitted by each Member State in response to the questionnaire will be used to assess the potential effect of revising certain limits on bottled water producers and will be taken into account in the Impact Assessment for the Commission's proposals for the revision of Annex 1 of Directive 2003/40/EC. The Agency understands that the questionnaire will be circulated to relevant trade associations by the Commission. However, both the Agency and the Commission appreciate that not all producers will be members of such associations and feel it is important that all businesses are given the opportunity to feed into the questionnaire.

The list of parameters and limits in Annex 1 of Directive 2003/40/EC apply to natural mineral water only; they do not apply to spring water and bottled drinking water. Separate requirements for spring water and bottled drinking water are laid down by the Drinking Water Directive (Council Directive 98/83/EC) which has been transposed into English law by Statutory Instrument No. 2003/666 (Schedule 3), with equivalent provisions in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland . In drafting the UK 's response to the questionnaire we would be grateful for your input. As the competent authorities for natural mineral water producers in your areas we would like you to provide us with the information required by the attached table.

In summary, for each of the limits cited, you are asked to input the total number of producers in your area whose water would fall on or above that limit. This data should then be further divided between producers categorised as being small/medium enterprises or large industry. The Commission has not provided definitions; rather left it to your discretion. Information on the actual concentration levels should also be included in the table (column 7), e.g. if the fluoride concentrations of 5 producers ranges from 1.5 to 3 mg/L, then row 2 would have zero entries (i.e. all compliant); a range of < 3 mg/L would be reported in row 3; and in row 4, a range of 1.5 to 3 mg/L.

Under the column entitled “% (vol) national production)”, if known, please enter this data (the company may be able to provide), alternatively an estimate of the annual production in litres can be used as an alternative figure.

In order to meet the deadline for response set by the Commission (10 April 2007), the Agency would be grateful if you could return your questionnaires by 12:00 pm on 30 March 2007. If you do not have any natural mineral water producers or applicants for recognition within your area, then please note “not applicable” or “N/A” at the top of the first page before returning the questionnaire.

For your information I have also attached a copy of the UK 's list of recognised natural mineral sources. The Agency endeavours to keep this up to date, however if you note any omissions or inaccuracies (e.g. inclusion of now derecognised sources, name changes etc.) then please notify me of any changes needed.

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