Food Safety Focus (29th Issue, December 2008) – Food Incident Highlight
Strange Smell in Water Packaged in Plastic Bottles
Recently, there were two separate incidents in Japan where consumers complained of strange smell in two different brands of imported mineral water in plastic PET bottles. It was possible that the minute quantity of odorous chemicals picked up by the bottles from the surroundings during shipping or storage had caused the problem. The importers of both brands in Hong Kong have confirmed that the products sold locally are not from the affected batches.
PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is a type of plastic which is commonly used for making beverage bottles. Although PET is known for its desirable properties like good tensile strength, high chemical resistance, light weight etc., it is not impermeable to odours.
Even though the odorous chemicals picked up by the plastic bottles may not be harmful and the quantity is often quite small, consumers may find the smell unacceptable and reject the products. Food business should store bottled water away from odorous chemicals like paint, organic solvents etc. in order to minimise the chance of contamination.