Products from two of Egypt’s leading bottled water brands have been declared “unfit for human consumption” by the authorities, after laboratory tests on samples revealed they did not comply with standards.
In what appears to be a leaked internal directive dated May 2016, officials said that coliform bacteria (which usually indicate the presence of fecal matter) were found in samples of Nestle Pure Life and Baraka Water bottled water (both brands produced by Nestle Water Egypt), and live protozoa in samples of Aquafina bottled water, produced by PepsiCo, making them “unfit for human consumption.”
Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed admitted that the statement was legitimate in statements widely quoted by local media on Thursday, though he did not answer repeated requests for comment on the matter by Ahram Online.
Nestle, which produces Nestle Pure Life and Baraka Water from the same factory in Banha, in Egypt’s Qalyubiya governorate, said it was working with the authorities to address the allegations.
“Nestlé Waters has become aware of a document in circulation from the Ministry of Health concerning some of the company’s products, Nestlé Waters would like to inform all its customers and consumers that the case is immediately under serious investigation in collaboration with the MOH,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Together, Aquafina and Nestle’s Pure Life controlled 71 percent of the bottled water market, according to an April 2013 report by the Egyptian Competition Authority.
The leaked document calls for halting the circulation in the market of the following; 1.5L Nestle Pure Life bottles produced on 17/03/2016 and 330 ml bottles produced on 13/03/2016, Baraka 1.5L bottles produced on 01/03/2016 and 600 ml bottles dated 10/03/2016, as well as Aquafina 1.5 bottles produced on 17/03/2016 and on 07/03/2016.
The directive also calls for conducting tests on samples from the bottles listed and sending the results to Egypt’s Prosecutor General, to determine a course of action.
According to the document, the samples were tested following a complaint from the government’s Health Directorate in the Nile Delta governorate of Beheira.
Regular tests are conducted on unprocessed well-water and the bottled product, to make sure the source is free of certain bacteria according to international standards, Zeinab Bakry, Chairperson of the National Nutrition Institute, told Ahram Online in a 2013 interview.