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We thought this was another dihydrogen monoxide joke, but … the EU actually says bottled water …

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… can’t be advertised as preventing dehydration. In “Europe’s ruling on water preventing dehydration – another ‘angels dancing on the head of a pin’ moment” (The Telegraph, November 21, 2011), Ed West reports,

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month

Apparently, the laws against “bent bananas and curved cucumbers” were blown away in 2008 in a hurricane of derision. No wonder. It’s right up there with the theory in some Middle Eastern jurisdictions that you mustn’t put tomatoes and cucumbers in the same bag. People might, we are told, start to imagine things. Things like … yuck, salad plate yet again for dinner? No, go look up what some people imagine!

Yes, that’s why most legal systems are not based on what some people imagine.

Bty the way, Britain’s

NHS health guidelines state clearly that drinking water helps avoid dehydration, and that Britons should drink at least 1.2 litres per day.

Our favourite line from the water wars:

Prof Brian Ratcliffe, spokesman for the Nutrition Society, said dehydration was usually caused by a clinical condition and that one could remain adequately hydrated without drinking water.

So get this straight: None of the preferred drinks, like coffee, tea, or OJ contain water, of course. If they did, they wouldn’t work.

Local colour note: It is common to see joggers pelting past in downtown Toronto, each armed with a bottle of branded water, usually secured just where a cowboy would have slung a six-gun, ready to hand. Someone needs to tell them that the contents will not prevent dehydration, the way they think.

Dihydrogen monoxide? A jape that went through years ago, ridiculing food safety warnings.

A friend writes to say, “This is what happens when science becomes an autoimmune disease that kills the wider culture ….”

Europe used to be a place you could go to get away from basically stupid food rules.

6 Replies to “We thought this was another dihydrogen monoxide joke, but … the EU actually says bottled water …

  1. 1
    GCUGreyArea says:

    Food manufacturers are also not allowed to claim that eating food can reduce the risk of starvation.

    The point of the EU ruling is actually specific to implied medical claims made about bottled water. You cannot claim that water ‘reduces the risk of dehydration’ because it implies something special and medical about water. In reality drinking tea hydrates, and so does eating food (because they all contain water), so there is nothing special about bottled water in this regard, and therefore is is wrong to allow a company to try and sell bottled water by claiming that it does something special that other water containing foodstuffs do not.

    Oxygen significantly reduces the risk of suffocation – Buy our specially bottled natural mineral oxygen now!

    The telegraph has a good follow up piece.

  2. 2
    John D says:

    Yeah, you definitely need protection from predatory water sellers.

  3. 3
    News says:

    GCUGreyArea, the follow-up piece you mention was by one of the promoters of the no-hydration claim. Most health lecturers our news team has ever heard stress the importance of drinking plain water for hydration because everything else adds something, which is not the point.

    The following is hard to believe, because it takes you back to wondrous tales of the Age of Discovery. Yet it is true: There is a country somewhere in North America, whose banks are in strong shape, where it is legal to state that bottled water combats dehydration and that food combats starvation. Drink some water while you recover from the shock. No really, it is good for you, even if it comes from a bottle. Country? Hint: http://www.gc.ca/ Don’t look. No, don’t.

  4. 4
    GCUGreyArea says:

    It is worth explaining exactly why the ruling was made, the telegraph piece explains the specifics quite well:

    The application for a health claim that was made to the European Commission was “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant (associated) decrease of performance.”

    While this sounds like common sense, it fell foul of the EC because it was not technically correct, and the EC introduced the control of health claims to protect consumers from misleading information on products.

    If it was permitted, it seems to me that it could be made for any food that contained a significant amount of water as well as on bottled water, colas, and presumably beers, so it’s not very useful.

    Also, it could be used to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not the case.

    The application failed because to make a claim it must ‘reduce a risk factor in the development of a human disease’.

    The applicants proposed water loss in tissues or reduced water content in tissues as ‘risk factors’ but these are actual symptoms of dehydration.

    This technicality may be difficult to grasp but it’s a little like saying ‘breathing regularly reduces the risk of suffocation’.

    So the first part highlights the specific context of the ruling – it is not a general ruling about water but was made in response to a request by bottled water manufacturers to be allowed to claim bottled water as a medical treatment.

    In short, bottled water manufacturers wanted to claim specifically that drinking bottled water would reduce the risk of disease (dehydration). The EU ruled, rightly, that there is nothing special about bottled water with respect to this specific claim because all food and drink products contain water, and that dehydration is a symptom, not a disease.

  5. 5
    GCUGreyArea says:

    Yes sometimes some people do – I did hear that one manufacturer had tried to claim that the body cannot absorb water from food or drink, only from pure water – patently wrong and misleading but it was being used basically to trick gullible people into buying their products.

    Famously, the coca cola corporation launched its own brand of bottled water several years ago (it failed as a product) and they tried to claim that is was ‘Purer than pure water’.

  6. 6
    John D says:

    “The EU ruled, rightly, that there is nothing special about bottled water with respect to this specific claim because all food and drink products contain water, and that dehydration is a symptom, not a disease.”

    So you’re saying that they didn’t need to apply for permission to make this statement at all since it’s a symptom not a disease?

    But I agree that it is as false as saying, “Oxygen significantly reduces the risk of suffocation”

    I know that alot of people buy oxygen because they have trouble breathing. Perhaps they should just suck it up since other things contain oxygen and shortness of breath is really a symptom of a different disease.

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