Sunday, 18 March 2018

High levels of bacteria found in packaged water: FDA

18/3/2018

PUNE: The last survey conducted by Food and Drug Administration in 2017 detected high levels of bacteria in sizable number of packaged drinking water samples drawn from across the state. Earlier in 2014, traces of cyanide - a powerful poison and chemical contaminant, were found in two packaged drinking water samples drawn from Jalna and Parbhani districts.

Incidentally, the maximum number of unsafe samples of packaged drinking water in most of the surveys carried out by the FDA officials were found in Pune. “The 2017 survey found 15 water samples unsafe for human consumption in Maharashtra. They mainly had bacterial contamination, which can cause gastrointestinal diseases,” said joint commissioner (headquarters), FDA, Chandrashekhar Salunke.

FDA drew 136 samples of packaged drinking water from Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad, Amaravati, Nagpur and Pune between March 1, 2016, and April 31, 2017. Of them, 48 samples were of poor quality, labels on some of the bottles were found tampered. The foremost concern is that the samples tested unsafe for human consumption. “We have filed criminal cases against the plant owners. Of the 15 samples found unsafe, five were drawn from Mumbai followed by Pune (4), Nashik (3), Aurangabad (2) and Amaravati (1),” Salunke said.

“The samples from Pune were detected with rod-shaped bacteria, called coliform, in high proportion, exposure to which can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting,” said joint commissioner (food), FDA, Pune, S S Desai. Similarly, FDA drew 95 samples of packaged drinking water from plants across the state from April 2014 to March 2015 and found 53% of them unsafe and substandard.

In Pune region, 11 of the 31 samples were found unsafe. The randomly picked up samples were detected with high bacterial count. However, the detection of cyanide was startling. Cyanide contamination was found in the samples of bottled water picked up by FDA officials from the packaged water plant located in Ner village in Jalna district and another in Parbhani as part of a routine check.

The government’s referral laboratory in Ghaziabad had found 0.007 milligram cyanide per litre of water and labelled the sample as extremely unsafe for human consumption. “This was the first time that cyanide was found in the sample of packaged drinking water in the state and perhaps in the country. The plants were later closed down and criminal cases were filed against the owners,” Salunke said.

The plants were surrounded by agricultural land. FDA Officials suspect that chemical fertilizers used in agriculture may have percolated into the ground water, which was being used by the plants to make packaged drinking water.

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