The bottled water industry is an environmental nightmare. Some Australian companies have been pushing the envelope further by marketing bottled water with the word “organic” on labels – but not any more.
Last week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said seven suppliers of bottled water will remove ‘organic’ claims from labeling and marketing material; while an eighth supplier has dumped their product altogether.
“Organic standards acknowledge that water cannot be organic. Any claim that particular water is organic would therefore be misleading or deceptive,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
The ACCC states use of the word ‘organic’ in the context of food and drink refers to “agricultural products which have been farmed according to certain practices,” which of course bottled water isn’t.
Some of the companies had argued that their use of the word ‘organic’ was not in reference to the nature of the product, but part of the brand name. I noticed one of the companies continued to use this excuse on their Facebook page. The ACCC rejected this argument; stating “Manufacturers cannot hide misleading claims in their brand names.”
Here’s how some of the labels looked (image credit: ACCC).
A name and shame list of the manufacturers involved can be viewed here. The list shows the new names of the products as well; handy for consumers who wish to continue punishing the companies for the deception.
Consumers who fork out extra for organic goods do so to ensure what they are consuming is free from artificial preservatives and additives and has been produced in an earth friendly way.
While these bottled waters likely don’t have added nasties, the use of “organic” in these instances and wherever else it is inappropriately used just degrades the concept and is an affront to all legitimate producers that put in the blood, sweat, tears and cash into doing things the right way.
Australia isn’t Robinson Crusoe when it comes to issues with organic labeling – there are problems elsewhere as well; including “organic” bottled water being sold in the USA.
There are also different levels of “organic” that consumers really need to be aware of.
Learn more about organic food labeling terms and what they mean.