A report from March 1991:
The United States General Accounting Office published report GAO/RCED-91-67 entitled "FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY STRONGER FDA STANDARDS AND OVERSIGHT NEEDED FOR BOTTLED WATER. This report explains: "The FDA is primarily responsible for ensuring the safety of bottled water sold in interstate commerce, while the EPA is responsible for regulating most other drinking water sources including setting allowable levels for contaminants in public water systems [FDA defines bottled water as water that is sealed in bottles or other containers and is intended for human consumption. Bottled water excludes soda, seltzer, flavored, and vended water products]. FDA sets bottled water quality standards and oversees how these standards are met by inspecting records and sanitary conditions at bottling plants, testing bottled water samples, and requiring bottlers also to test their water periodically. States are responsible for the safety of bottled water sold in intrastate commerce."
The March 1991 report further states:
"Also, after temporarily exempting "mineral water" from bottled water standards in 1973, FDA has not developed alternative standards for it or even defined it [Although FDA has not officially defined mineral water, it is generally considered a type of bottled water that contains various dissolved minerals, such as copper, iron, sulfate, and zinc].
As a result, bottled water, including mineral water, may contain levels of potentially harmful contaminants that are not allowed in public drinking water. FDA's oversight of bottled water does not ensure that bottled water meets existing federal regulations and standards. Because FDA does not have a complete inventory of bottlers, it may not have inspected some domestic plants, and it does not inspect foreign bottling operations because it lacks jurisdiction over them. Further, of the 31 contaminants for which there are standards, FDA tested for 5 or fewer contaminants in 94 percent of the tests we reviewed. FDA and the International Bottled Water Association believe that bottled water is safe but recognize that some gaps in federal regulation should be closed." The report goes on to give background, examples of problems, conclusions, and recommendations.