Recall of Certain Bottled Mineral Water in the United States
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release on 7 March 2007 and warned consumers not to drink several brands of “Jermuk” mineral water imported from Armenia due to the risk of exposure to arsenic. According to the FDA, they sampled 500 milliliter (mL) green glass bottles and detected the problem. The levels of arsenic detected ranged from 500 to 600 ppb, exceeding the international standard of 10 ppb. The FDA is investigating whether other sizes or packaging are involved.
Details of the affected products are as follows:-
- Labelled as "Jermuk Original Sparkling Natural Mineral Water Fortified With Natural Gas From The Spring". The product is additionally labelled as "2006 Jermuk Mayr Gortsaran CJSC" and "Imported by: Zetlian Bakery Inc.";
- Labelled as "Jermuk Sodium Calcium Bicarbonate and Sulphate Mineral Water." The product is additionally labelled as "Bottled by ARPI Plant, Republic of Armenia" and "Exclusive US importer and distributor: Importers Direct Wholesale Co., Los Angeles, CA";
- Labelled as "Jermuk, Natural Mineral Water Sparkling". The product is additionally labelled as "Bottled by Jermuk Group CJSC" and "Sale Agent Kradjian Importing Co. Inc".
Actions Taken by the CFS
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has made an appeal to the trade to stop selling the same batch of affected products and the public not to consume them. The CFS will continue to closely monitor the situation and take action as appropriate.
What Is Arsenic?
Arsenic is a metalloid present naturally in the earth's crust and is found in trace amounts in rock, soil, water and air. It exists in both organic and inorganic forms in foods. Primary route of exposure in humans to arsenic is mainly through ingestion of foods, especially aquatic foods, which contain relatively high levels of arsenic.
Chronic toxicity due to arsenic may lead to skin lesions, nerve damage, skin cancer and diseases of the blood vessels.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer under the WHO has classified arsenic in drinking water as carcinogenic to humans.
Advice to the Trade
- Stop selling the affected products.
Advice to Consumers
- Consumers who have purchased the affected products should stop consuming them.
- Consumers who drank this water and have concerns are encouraged to seek medical advice.
Further information about the incident can be obtained from the following webpages:
- FDA website
- The CFS press release
- CFS Risk Assessment Study on Dietary Exposure to Heavy Metals of Secondary School Students
- CFS Risk in Brief on Hijiki and Arsenic
Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
8 March 2007