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Food Safety

Natural mineral waters and spring water

Categories of water

There are different categories of waters intended for human consumption such as natural mineral waters and spring waters.

Natural mineral waters may be distinguished from ordinary drinking water by their purity at source and their constant level of minerals. Spring waters are intended for human consumption in their natural state and are bottled at source.

Directive 2009/54/EC regulates the marketing and exploitation of natural mineral waters. Certain provisions of this Directive are also applicable to spring waters such as the microbiological requirements and labelling requirements.

Commission Directive 2003/40/EC of 16 May 2003 establishes the list, concentration limits and labelling requirements for the natural mineral waters and the conditions for using ozone-enriched air for the treatment of natural mineral waters and spring waters.

Separation techniques

Natural mineral waters and spring waters may be treated at source to remove unstable elements and some undesirable constituents in compliance with the provisions laid down in Article 4 of Directive 2009/54/EC.

Treatments other than filtration or decanting with possible oxygenation have to be assessed and authorised at EU level prior to their use by industry.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 115/2010 lays down the conditions for use of activated alumina for the removal of fluoride from natural mineral waters and spring waters.

Official recognition of natural mineral waters

Natural mineral waters are subject to an authorization procedure carried out by the competent authorities of the EU countries or by European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

The lists of natural mineral waters officially recognised by the EU countries of the EU and of the EEA (Iceland and Norway) are published by the European Commission in the Official Journal of the European Union. These lists are regularly updated.

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