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Bacteria, pollutants... A note from ANSES questions the health quality of Nestlé mineral waters

Bacteria, micropollutants and insufficient controls: the health quality of water from the Nestlé group (owner of the Contrex, Hépar, Perrier or Vittel brands, is not guaranteed, according to a note from Anses submitted to the Ministry of Health in last October and revealed this Thursday, April 4 by Franceinfo and Le Monde.

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Bacteria, pollutants... A note from ANSES questions the health quality of Nestlé mineral waters

Bacteria, micropollutants and insufficient controls: the health quality of water from the Nestlé group (owner of the Contrex, Hépar, Perrier or Vittel brands, is not guaranteed, according to a note from Anses submitted to the Ministry of Health in last October and revealed this Thursday, April 4 by Franceinfo and Le Monde. The analysis, conducted by the Nancy hydrology laboratory at the request of the ARS Grand Est and Occitanie, where Nestlé sources and collection points are located, noted “an insufficient level of confidence regarding the assessment of the quality of resources, particularly with regard to the variability of contamination and their microbiological and chemical vulnerability”.

The experts mention “multiple findings of contamination of fecal origin”, with coliform bacteria, Escherichia coli or enterococci in raw water, but also the “notable chronic presence of micropollutants”. In particular, they found PFAS, so-called “eternal pollutants”, in these bottled waters, which in certain sources exceeded the threshold of 0.1 micrograms per liter authorized for natural mineral water.

The laboratory specifies in its report that it only had access, to carry out its mission, to “truncated and fragmented” information. However, ANSES's conclusions are clear: contaminated sources should no longer be used to produce bottled water. The agency recommends the establishment of a “reinforced surveillance plan”, with increased vigilance on the “virological health risk”.

“Nestlé water bottles must be recalled and other Member States of the European Union informed as a matter of urgency,” said the Foodwatch association in a press release published following these revelations. And to wonder about the silence of the government since the submission of the report: “Why have these alerts from Anses been ignored by the French authorities since last October?”

For its part, Nestlé did not react. The group admitted in early January to having used prohibited treatments on its mineral waters to “guarantee food safety”. The company assured that it had informed the health authorities of their use of these filtration techniques in 2021. Some of them, such as ultraviolet light and activated carbon, which could be compared to disinfection, formally prohibited for natural mineral water, had been stopped, but Nestlé had continued microfiltration. However, several wells, particularly in the Vosges, had to be closed.

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