Nestle Waters sued for fraud as buyers discover its filtered tap

Monday, December 17th, 2012 By

Bottled water

A suit has been lodged against Nestle Waters, as a Chicago store claims it was defrauded by bottled water being sourced from municipal sources, i.e. tap. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A lawsuit has been filed against Nestle Waters, as a customer of theirs believe they were defrauded by the brand’s bottled water. Nestle Waters is filtered after being obtained from a municipal source, meaning it’s just filtered tap, which has gotten the bottled water industry in hot water before.

Nestle Waters stung with suit over age-old trick of beverage industry

Owners of the Chicago Faucet Shoppe, a plumbing supply store in, naturally, Chicago, has filed a lawsuit against Nestle Waters North America, according to USA Today, alleging the company defrauded them in selling them those 5-gallon plastic carboys of drinking water.

However, Chicago Faucet found that the water they were purchasing was from a municipal source, which they contend was not disclosed in advertising. What “municipal source” means is tap water; bottled water companies, and many do this, get water from the same place the tap does. Some filter it a bit more, some don’t, but they bottle it and sell it.

Nestle sells seven of the 10 most popular brands of bottled water as of 2011, when Americans drank 9.1 billion gallons and paid $11 billion to do so. That’s a lot of money for bottled water.

A lot is tap

Brands aside from Nestle Waters have been pressured to be forthcoming about using municipal sources. Public pressure convinced Pepsi, according to CNN, to fess up in 2007 about its bottled water brand, Aquafina, being from a municipal source and stating it in print. Coca-Cola likewise started publicly admitting that Dasani, also a popular bottled water brand, was also municipally sourced.

Granted, both Aquafina and Dasani both undergo additional filtered before bottling, so they’re at least no different from anything one would get from a Pur or Brita filter system.

Estimates vary as to how much bottled water is municipal, i.e. bottled tap water. The National Resources Defense Council, according to a 2006 National Geographic article, estimates 25 percent. The Food and Drug Administration, according to a 2007 Today article, believed the same thing around that time, though the current FDA page about bottled water declines to estimate. According to a 2008 WebMD article, 45 percent of single-servings, i.e. the bottles at convenience stores, of bottled water are from municipal sources.

It’s safe to say there’s between a one-in-four or one-in-two chance that bottle you’re swilling might be tap.

Same stuff, just more expensive

If one is at all concerned about the quality or safety of their tap water, the Environmental Protection Agency has data concerning what’s in the tap water for all areas in the nation. One merely needs to look it up.

If one doesn’t necessarily want to pay Nestle Waters or anyone else for the same water they get from the tap, there are some ways to get filtered water for much cheaper and cut down on pollution from discarded plastic bottles. Brita pitchers start as low as $10 on Walmart.com for the small model and a Brita tap filter, which attaches to the faucet head, goes for less than $20. A pack of three filters is $25. Pur, a competing brand, goes for about the same.

Sources

USA Today

CNN

National Geographic

Today: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/20055639/ns/today-food/t/bottled-water-labels-dont-tell-whole-story/#.UMtkzKBVPcs

FDA: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm203620.htm

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20081107/bottled-water-faq-on-safety-and-purity

Walmart: http://www.walmart.com/search/search-ng.do?search_query=Brita&ic=16_0&Find=Find&indexId=13b97d95383c&cdnHost=search-cdn.walmart.com&searchdropdowndiv=com.wm.module.305715.constraint&search_constraint=0

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