A sour taste remains after the bottled water scandal

By Ewa Manthey Source:Global Times Published: 2013-5-16 17:58:01

Chinese media recently exposed quality problems in the bottled water industry. A Beijing Times story alleged that Nongfu Spring, one of China's largest bottled water manufacturers, has looser standards than national tap water standards for a number of factors, including arsenic and cadmium levels. The article led to a drop in sales of the brand's mineral water.

An expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that there were fewer indicators for bottled water because it came from tap water, so if the tap water had passed the examination, then bottled water did not need to be tested a second time. However, many companies, like Nongfu Spring, no longer use tap water but use natural water sources. What do Shanghai expats think? Do they drink bottled or tap water? Are they worried about the bottled water safety standards?

Tom Liu, from Australia, photographer

"Now that we can't drink tap water or bottled water, what is there to drink? I knew that with the pigs and the pollution, the water in China wasn't perfect, but to be honest, I was hoping that the standards for bottled water were very high, because of all these factors.

I am really tired of hearing about the food scandals here. We can't eat meat, it's not safe to drink bottled water anymore, what is going to be next? I am really angry and worried, and I know most of the expats are too, after hearing this news.

The best solution would be to buy imported bottled water, but the problem is that it is so expensive here. I think I will stop buying bottled water and start boiling tap water. I think this will be the safest solution."

Rebecca Jones, from the UK, student

"I guess now is a good time for foreign bottled water brands to expand into China. Anyway I have been buying imported bottled water since I moved to China. I know it's much more expensive than the Chinese brands, but I don't really like the taste of the water here. And the first few weeks of my stay in China, I was having stomach problems so I decided to switch to imported water.

I also use a filter for my shower and don't brush my teeth with the tap water here. Maybe I am a bit paranoid but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Plus my skin feels much better when I use the shower filter.

I wasn't really surprised to hear this news given the recent revelations about the fake lamb meat. I have known for a while that bottled water in China is very often fake. I wonder when China will finally have proper food safety standards. Hopefully it is going to happen soon."

Liz Westover, from the US, teacher

"I have been living in China for a long time and I have got used to this sort of news. But I am not very worried about the bottled water scandal myself because I have a water purifier at home and I rarely buy bottled water here.

Scandals like this will keep happening unless China introduces stricter health and safety regulations. The government needs to think about the negative impact news of this kind has on its image and economy. Food scandals can really harm the country's tourism. Who would want to come to a country where the water is not safe to drink? The only alternative is to buy imported bottled water, which is very expensive and unfortunately not everyone can afford to buy it."

Melissa Gilbert, from Canada, teacher

"Bottled water quality is something I take for granted back home. But I learnt that in China you always have to be careful of the products you buy. I know many expats here shop in stores that sell imported products. They would rather pay more for products from back home than buy Chinese products. They are more expensive but at the end, it is not a big price to pay for peace of mind.

I am a bit worried about the latest news. I knew it's not safe to drink tap water here, but I didn't expect that bottled water might be harmful to your health too. I really hope that the relevant authorities will set new standards that will ensure the public's safety."


Posted in: Metro Shanghai

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