A week ago, I shared with readers some helpful information I recently came across concerning the long-term storage of emergency water.
In the days that followed, I received a comment (hat tip WinstonSmith) that reminded me of something I had read a while back from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concerning the shelf life of commercially-bottled water.
Back in the August/September 2002 issue of Food Safety Magazine, Lauren Posnickis, a consumer safety officer in the Regulatory Policy Branch of the Division of Plant Product Safety in the Office of Plant and Dairy Foods and Beverages, CFSAN, FDA, and Henry Kim, Chief of the Regulatory Policy Branch, which oversees regulatory policy for plant-derived foods, as well as for bottled water, authored “Bottled Water Regulation and the FDA.” In the article, Posnickis and Kim noted the FDA regulates bottled water, and that the agency:
Has established specific regulations for bottled water in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR), including standard of identity regulations (21 CFR § 165.110[a]) that define different types of bottled water, such as spring water and mineral water, and standard of quality regulations (21 CFR §165.110[b]) that establish allowable levels for contaminants (chemical, physical, microbial and radiological) in bottled water.
Later on in the piece was a part entitled “FAQs About Bottled Water.” One of the frequently-asked questions identified was, “What is the shelf life for bottled water?”
Here was the surprising answer from these two FDA officials:
Bottled water is considered to have an indefinite safety shelf life if it is produced in accordance with CGMP and quality standard regulations and is stored in an unopened, properly sealed container. Therefore, FDA does not require an expiration date for bottled water. However, long-term storage of bottled water may result in aesthetic defects, such as off-odor and taste. Bottlers may voluntarily put expiration dates on their labels.
Interesting. As I mentioned last Wednesday, the commercially-bottled spring water I recently purchased has an expiration date of January 2015 on the packaging. Considering the information contained in this article, do I plan on never rotating out the bottled water? No. Between never replacing those bottles and changing them out every 6 months like I would the water in my water storage containers, I’m opting for a middle-of-the-road approach and rotating the older-date bottles with newer-date ones as their “expiration dates” draw near.
You can read the entire Food Safety Magazine article here (.pdf file) on the FDA website.
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