Date Published: 28 September 2006

Food Standards Agency (FSA) advice on bottled Zam Zam water

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

September 2006 : The Food Standards Agency is advising consumers not to drink bottled water on sale and labelled as Zam Zam water, as it may contain high levels of arsenic.

Tests carried out last year found bottled water labelled as Zam Zam water to contain arsenic at almost three times the permitted level, which could contribute to increasing people's risk of cancer. In addition, nitrate was found at twice the permitted level. While this is not a problem for most people, it could be for infants because they are more sensitive to nitrate's effect on the blood's ability to carry oxygen.

Recent tests by Leicester City Council (reported to the agency on 15 of September 2006) have confirmed that elevated levels of arsenic continue to be found in bottled water labelled as Zam Zam water.

Safe, Healthy Eating and Good Nutrition

Genuine Zam Zam water, which is sacred to Muslims, comes from a specific source in Saudi Arabia and cannot legally be exported from that country for commercial sale. Therefore, any product found in the shops would have an uncertain origin and could pose a safety risk.

In recent meetings with the Agency's Muslim Organisations Working Group, the FSA was informed of the continued sale of bottled waters labelled as Zam Zam water.

In view of this, the FSA's advice remains that people should not buy or drink commercially available brands of Zam Zam water and should inform their local authority environmental health or trading standards department if they come across Zam Zam water on sale. Enforcement officers are empowered to carry out appropriate tests on these waters and also remove them from sale if necessary.

This advice does not relate to the genuine Zam Zam water being brought into the UK by returning pilgrims as an accompanied personal import'.

Given that the demand for Zam Zam water is likely to increase during the month of Ramadan, the FSA has written to all heads of environmental departments and directors of trading standards asking local authorities to take appropriate enforcement action.


Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK

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