'Evening News' Spouts Old Attack on Bottled Water, Endorses Regulation
Perhaps the network did it for old timesâ€™ sake. The September 10 â€śCBS Evening Newsâ€ť decided to recycle the mediaâ€™s attack on bottled water.
Having already attacked bottled water for the alleged environmental impact caused by its packaging, the â€śEvening Newsâ€ť joined lawmakers calling for testing the water itself. The segment aired the same day a Senate subcommittee held a hearing on the quality and environmental impact of bottled water.
â€śThe marketing campaigns say it all â€“ bottled water is a pure healthy choice for consumers and millions of Americans are swallowing that message,â€ť CBS correspondent Thalia Assuras said. â€śDespite research showing that almost 40 percent of bottle water actually comes out of taps, including Pepsiâ€™s Aquafina, Cokeâ€™s Dasani and Nestleâ€™s Pure-Life, consumers spent $11 billion last year buying it off the shelves, convinced itâ€™s healthier. Food safety experts say there is no evidence of that.â€ť
The report began with a commercial for Tulpehocken, a brand of bottled water based in
But according to its Web site, Tulpehocken is bottled from three
CBS wasnâ€™t breaking new ground. All three broadcast networks â€“ ABC, CBS and NBC â€“ complained about bottled water coming from taps in July 2007. Reporters criticized PepsiCo when it changed its labels to clarify the water comes from a public water source, suggesting it had previously tried to deceive consumers.
Still, CBSâ€™s Assuras found â€śfood safety expertsâ€ť at the anti-business group Food & Water Watch to criticize the industry and call for more regulation. The group, founded in 2005, opposes corporate involvement in food production.
Wenonah Hauter, the groupâ€™s executive director, called bottle water â€śa scam.â€ť â€śItâ€™s a ripoff. Tap water is safer. Itâ€™s required to be tested more often and bottled water companies never have to test their water after bottling and storage. You donâ€™t really know what youâ€™re getting,â€ť Hauter said.
â€śBlame the regulatory system,â€ť Assuras said. â€śThis tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires thousands of tests annually for contaminants. Whatâ€™s in here [bottled water] is monitored by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). But the FDA has no specific bottled water program and no inspectors assigned solely to testing.â€ť
Tulpehocken, the company whose ad was featured in the segment, said on its Web site that itâ€™s non-tap water is tested â€śwhen it comes into the plant and for consistency several times per hour at every stage of the bottling process.â€ť Regulations arenâ€™t holding the company back. â€śWe continuously test our water for much more than is required by EPA and FDA regulations,â€ť it said.
But if Assurasâ€™ earlier point â€“ that 40 percent of bottled water comes from tap water â€“ is true, then at least 40 percent of bottled water already faces EPA scrutiny. And she didnâ€™t mention that bottled â€śtap waterâ€ť like PepsiCoâ€™s Aquafina, is purified before bottling.
Assuras also misinterpreted why some people drink bottled water. Some consumers favor bottled water over other beverage choices like soft drinks because it is healthier. Others prefer bottled water instead of tap water because of the convenience.
CBS didnâ€™t include any representatives of the bottled water industry in the report. Instead, Assuras criticized executives for not offering any â€śapologiesâ€ť during the Senate hearing â€“ as if they had something to apologize for.
In an April 2007 press release, International Bottled Water Association Vice President Stephen R. Kay said â€śconsumers are choosing bottled water as a refreshing, hydrating beverage and as an alternative to others that may contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial colors, alcohol or other ingredients, which they wish to moderate or avoid.
Bottled water has repeatedly faced scrutiny from the media. Last year, ABCâ€™s â€śWorld News with Charles Gibsonâ€ť attacked bottled water on consecutive broadcasts for environmental reasons. And even tap water wasnâ€™t safe enough for the broadcast networks. All three warned of traces of pharmaceuticals in tap water in March 2008 reports