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Bottled Knowledge

Water bottles are growing in popularity, but how compliant are yours? Mark Oliver outlines the requirements.

The Government is currently encouraging consumers to drink more water but at the same time social media and European legislation highlights the possible risks from certain chemicals used in water bottle manufacture. In addition, as a responsible supplier, have you considered the potential choking hazards from removable small parts often found on drinks bottles which could create an additional liability on your business?

Following concerns about the possible effects of Biphenol A (BPA) used in drinks bottle manufacture, it has been banned in babies’ bottles for some years and many manufacturers promote the fact their child or adult product ranges are BPA free. We would therefore advise that you ensure your supplier or manufacturer is able to show they are aware of any health concerns and uses materials considered safe given current scientific knowledge.

In terms of product safety, Trading Standards will always assess “foreseeable risk” and as waterbottles become more technical, with flip tops, pop up straws, twist spouts, and so on, and for cleaning purposes these parts are easy to remove, the chance of a child or even an adult choking greatly increases. On a water bottle that is clearly child appealing with small parts, including the under 36-month warning would be an obvious first step.

(WARNING –Not suitable for children under 36 months. Small parts choking hazard)

However, given the likely scenario with any drinks bottle being shared, it’s entirely foreseeable that any drinks bottle will be passed to children so the risk could apply to any water bottle with small parts. We would therefore advise that as best practice a pre-order sample is assessed to determine if there are any obvious hazards that could present a choking hazard, for example silicon seals and how easily they can be removed.

That ISO container of water bottles with little or no documentation may not be such an attractive proposition after all.

The above advice is in addition to ensuring the materials used are food safe, indicated by the wine glass and fork symbol. Depending on where the bottles are being sourced, the level of checks required will vary but a first importation from outside the EU always carries most responsibility. For additional guidance please see www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/product-safety

Mark Oliver is business hub manager, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards

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