Bottled water is water which has been packaged in sealed containers for use by consumers. The water can come from a variety of sources including springs, aquifers, or municipal supplies and the water may be treated to make it fit for people to drink.
In Canada, bottled water is regulated as a food and therefore, it must comply with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. In particular, under Division 12, Part B, of the Food and Drug Regulations, there are specific requirements that bottled water products must meet before they can be sold in Canada. These include specific microbiological standards, acceptable treatments and labeling requirements.
The federal responsibility for the regulation of bottled water sold in Canada is shared by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Health Canada establishes health and safety standards for bottled water and develops labeling policies related to health and nutrition. The CFIA develops standards related to the packaging, labeling and advertising of these products and handles all inspection and enforcement duties.
Federal laws set stringent national standards for bottled water. In addition to these laws, provinces and territories are free to establish additional requirements for their own jurisdictions.
In 2002, Health Canada and the CFIA began consulting on proposed regulatory changes for bottled water and prepackaged ice in a document called "Making it Clear - Renewing the Federal Regulations on Bottled Water: A Discussion Paper". During the consultation, several significant technical challenges with the proposal were identified including: how to identify the source of the bottled water and the specific microbiological, chemical and radiological requirements listed in the proposed amendments.
Since that time, Health Canada and the CFIA have been consulting further with stakeholders to identify how to address these specific issues. A summary of the input received during the consultations up until November 2008 has been posted as a next step in this process to develop regulations.
The feedback received to date will be incorporated into a revised regulatory proposal which will then follow the regulatory process. Canadians will have the opportunity to review and comment on this regulatory proposal when it is published in the Canada Gazette Part I as a part of this process.
Updates on the status of this work will continue to be posted on this site.