Natural mineral water, spring water, or prepared water, what’s the difference?
These three different types of plain water are defined by their intrinsic characteristics: origin, consistency, composition, protection and treatment.
The Codex Alimentarius defines these categories for packaged water suitable for human consumption.
1 / Types of water: what is natural mineral water?
Natural mineral water is defined as water that is:
- obtained directly from underground sources protected from pollution risks
- characterised by its content of certain mineral salts and their relative proportions
- guarantees constancy of its composition and the stability of its flow collected under conditions which guarantee the original microbiological purity and chemical composition
- packaged close to the point of emergence of the source
- cannot be subjected to any treatment (except for limited ones such as carbonation, iron or manganese removal)
- may claim medicinal effects
Natural mineral water accounts for the majority of our bottled water sales in Europe, where consumers demand “pure”, “untouched” water.
Natural mineral water also constitutes a significant share of our local brands in emerging markets.
2/ Types of water: Spring water, a water defined by origin
Waters defined by origin – often called “spring water” – are water that:
- come from a specific underground (or sometimes surface) source
- have not passed through a community water system
- are protected within set vulnerability perimeters to avoid pollution and contamination
- are consistently fit for human consumption at the source and kept in that state until bottled
- are not subject to any modification or treatment other than those permitted by this standard
Water defined by origin is the leading product type for our United States local brands, as well as the majority of our local brands outside Europe.
3/ Types of water : what is prepared water ?
Prepared waters may:
- originate from any type of water supply (including municipal water)
- be subjected to any treatment that modifies the original water in order to comply with chemical, microbiological and radiological safety requirements for pre-packaged water
Prepared water is the standard for emerging countries where purity of water means above all, safety. Depending on local legislation, the label would identify the water as “purified water” or “drinking water”.
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