Study Reports High Levels of Arsenic in Bottled Water Sold At Target, Whole Foods
By A.J. Esposito
A study by the Oakland based Center for Environmental Health (CEH) reported high levels of arsenic in Starkey Water and Penafiel which are owned by Whole Foods and Keurig Dr. Pepper respectively and sold at Target.
CEH has sent notices of violation to the manufacturers and retailers of the bottled water that the amount of arsenic in the water is at a level that requires a warning under California’s consumer protection law Proposition 65. According to CEH, heavy metal arsenic can cause reproductive disorder and cancer.
A CEH press release also stated that high levels of arsenic can harm an unborn child and young children whose bodies are still developing.
Michael Green, CEH CEO said that customers buy expensive bottled water because they assume that it is “safer and healthier to drink than tap water” without knowing that they are drinking water with a highly toxic metal known to cause birth defects and cancer.
Earlier research performed by Consumer Reports “also discovered high levels of arsenic in these bottled water brands.”
On June 21, 2019, Keurig Dr. Pepper withdrew its Peñafiel bottled water for sale in the U.S., citing high arsenic levels.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration learned about high levels of arsenic in a brand of bottled water owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper as early as 2013, two years earlier than previously known, according to records obtained this week by Consumer Reports.
But the company and the agency have never issued a recall for the product, which is still available for sale online and in stores.
Consumer Reports’ recent tests of the bottled water—Peñafiel Mineral Spring Water, imported from Mexico—found it had arsenic levels nearly double the federal limit of 10 parts per billion. And CR had previously found that the FDA knew about high levels of arsenic in the water as early as 2015 when the agency put Peñafiel on an “import alert” for excessive arsenic.
But it now seems that the FDA knew about concerning levels of arsenic in Peñafiel as early as 2013, according to records obtained by CR through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The documents show that in March of that year, the federal agency sent inspectors to R.R. Importaciones, a food importer in New Jersey after tests from the state’s health department found Peñafiel water with 21.1 ppb of arsenic.
(Though the FDA report redacts the brand name (PDF), key details from the records make clear that the bottled water is Peñafiel, including that the product was collected on Jan. 29, 2013, and later destroyed as a result of the tests on March 14 of that year.)
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Keurig, Dr. Pepper will be withdrawing Penafiel products from the shelves of Target, Walmart and other vendors. Consumers can also return the bottled water to a retailer and get a full refund.
However, a Whole Foods Market spokesperson said that Starkey Water is fully compliant with the standards set by the FDA for heavy metals as verified not only during the annual testing in an FDA certified lab but also by an accredited third-party lab test of every production run.