Q. What types of water can be bottled?
There are three types of water which can be bottled (packaged): natural mineral water, spring water and all other drinking water.
Q. What legislation covers bottled water?
Bottled water is covered by the following pieces of legislation:
European Union (Natural mineral waters, spring waters and other waters in bottles or containers) Regulations, 2016 (S.I. No. 282 of 2016). This legislation covers the definition of natural mineral water, spring water and 'other water', their exploitation, treatment, microbiological criteria, chemical contaminants, sales description, labelling and packaging.
Spring waters and 'other waters' must also comply with European Union (Drinking water) Regulations, 2014 (S.I. No. 122 of 2014).
Get more detailed information on the legislation on water
Q. What is natural mineral water?
Natural mineral waters are waters derived from a natural mineral water spring, which:
(1) have been extracted from the ground of a Member State and are recognized by the responsible authority of that Member State as satisfying the provisions of Section I of Annex I to Directive 2009/54/EC, or
(2) have been extracted from the ground of a country which is not a Member State and imported into the European Economic Area, and have been recognized by the responsible authority of a Member State pursuant to certification in the country of extraction,
and are intended to be placed on the market in a Member State.
Q. What is Spring Water?
Spring waters are waters which:
- are intended for human consumption in their natural state
- are placed in a bottle or container at source
- satisfy the conditions of exploitation laid down in points 2 and 3 of Annex II to Directive 2009/54/EC, which are fully applicable to spring waters
- satisfy the microbiological requirements imposed in respect of natural mineral waters in Regulation 8(1) to (8)
- satisfy the labelling requirements imposed in respect of natural mineral waters
- have not undergone any treatment other than those referred to in Regulation 10(3)(b) and (c), 10(5) and Regulation 11 of S.I. No. 282 of 2016
Q. What is the definition of 'Other Waters'?
'Other Waters' are those waters which are:
- not natural mineral waters as defined in S.I, No. 282 of 2016
- not spring waters as defined in S.I. No. 282 of 2016
and are intended to be placed on the market in a Member State
Q. Are there any Irish natural mineral waters?
Yes. There are two recognised Irish natural mineral waters. To be recognised as a natural mineral water, the water and source must be assessed. In Ireland, the responsible authority for assessing and declaring a water to be a natural mineral water is the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).
||Place of Exploitation
||Powerstown , Clonmel, County Tipperary
||Newcastle West, Co. Limerick
Q. Where can I find information on other natural mineral waters?
See the EU website for a list of natural mineral waters both within the EU and Third Countries and recognised as such by Member States.
Q. Are there any standards for bottled water?
Yes. The following standards relate to bottled water:
IS 432:2010 Package Ground Water
The National Standards Authority of Ireland have produced a standard for packaged water (Irish Standard IS 432:2010).
This standard applies to Irish ground water in sealed containers where the water is piped directly from the source to the packaging facility and the water is distributed or sold for human consumption. The standard provides manufacturers of bottled water with specific requirements to assure the safety of bottled water for the consumer, in addition to providing best practice guidelines on the development and management of suitable sources for the three classes of packaged groundwater namely, natural mineral water, spring water or other groundwater. The types of permitted treatment, the quality criteria and the labelling requirements for the three classes of groundwater are specified.
This standard is available to purchase from the NSAI: I.L.I Standard Distributors, 42-44 Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Tel: (01) 8576730.
Codex Alimentarius has published a number of Codes of Practice which are relevant to bottled water:
- Codex Standard for Natural Mineral Waters (108 - 1981 Rev 1 1997)
- Recommended International Code of Hygienic Practice for the Collecting, Processing and Marketing of Natural Mineral Waters ( CAC/RCP 33-1985)
- General Standard for Bottled/Packaged Drinking Waters (other than Natural Mineral Waters) ( 227-2001)
- Code of Hygienic Practice for Bottled/Packaged Drinking Waters(other than Natural Mineral Waters) (CAC/RCP 48-2001)
Note: The WHO has asked Codex to consider revising its standard for natural mineral water in particular in relation to undesirable substances e.g. nitrates, boron.
Q. Are there any restrictions on the importation of bottled water from outside the EU?
No. There are no restrictions on the importation of bottled water from outside the EU, other than the bottled water meets the legal requirements described above and are labelled in accordance with EU rules including where appropriate those contained in Directive 2000/13/EC on the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs. Health Certificates are not required.
Q. What are the hygiene requirements for bottled water?
Production of bottled water in Ireland is subject to compliance with European Communities (Hygiene of foodstuffs) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 369 of 2006) which transposes Regulation 852/2004/EC on the hygiene of foodstuffs.
Q. Can Natural Mineral Water and Spring water be marketed as natural mineral water or Spring water from one and the same spring under more than one trade description?
Water from the same spring, may be sold under different brands once the correct and consistent trade description is also given. The trade description is the name that normally identifies the product. It may be a ‘brand’ name or a description of the provenance of the water. FBOs (exploiting and bottling the water) should be asked to confirm the “trade description” to be used.
If the trade description does not include the name of the source, either the name of the spring or the place of exploitation must be given using letters 1 and half time the height and width of the largest letters used for that trade description.
The sales description is the category of the product, such as ‘natural mineral water’ or ‘spring water’.
Last reviewed: 15/1/2020