HC Deb 22 February 1990 vol 167 c905W
Mr. Home Robertson

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if any representations were made by his Department to the importers of Perrier water about traces of benzene identified in tests by the food safety directorate since August 1989; and when such contamination was first identified in Perrier water in Britain.

Mr. Maclean

Preliminary results from the food safety directorate's tests of United Kingdom supplies of Perrier water became available on 14 February. My officials made clear to the company that, although the levels detected here and in the United States posed a negligible risk to health, the Government were concerned at what appeared to be adventitious contamination by benzene.

Mr. Win Griffiths

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what guidelines govern the quality and safety of bottled water sold in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean

The European Community directive on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters (80/777) requires, inter alia, that all natural mineral waters must be officially recongised and monitored by a competent authority and that certain chemical and microbiological criteria must be met.

Other types of bottled drinking water are covered by the EC directive relating to the quality of water for human consumption (80/778). If the Food Safety Bill is passed, I would intend to use powers therein to make regulations specifically covering such bottled water. In the meantime advice to local authorities on the type and frequency of sampling water intended for bottling is contained in Department of the Environment circular 25/84 (Welsh Office circular 51/84).