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What is bottled water?
Water is classified as "bottled water" if it meets all applicable federal and state standards, is sealed in a sanitary container and is sold for human consumption. Bottled water cannot contain sweeteners or chemical additives (other than flavors, extracts or essences) and must be calorie-free and sugar-free.

What are the different types of bottled water?
There are several different varieties of bottled water. The product may be labeled as bottled water, drinking water or any of the following terms. Among the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) product definitions for bottled water are:

  • Spring Water: Bottled water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. Spring water must be collected only at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation finding the spring. Spring water collected with the use of an external force must be from the same underground stratum as the spring and must have all the physical properties, before treatment, and be of the same composition and quality as the water that flows naturally to the surface of the earth.
     
  • Well Water: Bottled water from a hole bored, drilled or otherwise constructed in the ground which taps the water of an aquifer.

How is bottled water different from tap water?
Consistent quality and taste are two of the principle differences between bottled water and tap water.

Quality is in every container of bottled water. It's consistent and it is inspected and monitored by governmental and private laboratories. Unfortunately, tap water can be inconsistent -- sometimes it might be okay while other times it is not. While bottled water originates from protected sources (75% from underground aquifers and springs), tap water comes mostly from rivers and lakes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported that hundreds of tap water sources have failed to meet minimum standards. Another factor to consider is the distance tap water has to travel and what it goes through before it reaches the tap. Taste is the other major reason people prefer bottled water versus tap water. Chlorine is most often used to disinfect tap water. That can leave an aftertaste and lead to other problems. Some bottlers use ozone, a form of supercharged oxygen, and/or ultraviolet light as the final disinfecting agents, both of which leave no taste or chemical trace.

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