Keurig Dr. Pepper announced it will withdraw its line of Penafiel unflavored mineral spring water products from the US market after an independent laboratory found high levels of arsenic in the bottled water line manufactured in Mexico.
The exact percentage found in the bottles has not been identified but the company states the levels tested were higher than the 10 parts billion marks (ppb), which is the maximum limit in compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) bottled water standard.
The company claims arsenic is found in nature, and aquifers are the source of mineral water where arsenic levels can fluctuate over time. In light of these recent findings, they have now installed an enhanced filtration system across their facilities in Mexico that fit the FDA’s regulatory guidelines.
Although arsenic is touted as a natural substance, consuming it in large portions or incrementally over time can cause major health risks. Ones that the World Health Organization claims to cause cardiovascular disease, skin lesions and cancer. It can also affect cognitive development in children and has been linked to early deaths in young adults.
Despite the recent voluntary withdrawal, speculations on the high arsenic levels found in Keurig Dr. Pepper’s Penafiel spring water have long been in the making.
According to a Consumer Report Investigation (CR) the FDA issued an import alert on Penafiel spring water products back in 2015 due to arsenic levels surpassing its 10ppb standard. During this time the investigators of the consumer report claim they were able to purchase Penafiel water from retail stores in two states and through Amazon.
After the report was published, Keurig Dr. Pepper provided the CR with new tests, and confirmed average levels of 17ppb in their products.
During this time the company suspended production at it’s Mexico manufacturing site for two weeks, claiming it was ‘working’ to improve its filtration, however, no voluntary withdrawal or recall of the product was made.
A class-action lawsuit filed by a consumer earlier this month only added fuel to the ongoing controversy and may have also spurred the company to make the voluntary recall this week.
In the meantime, the CR is hoping the FDA will lower the maximum arsenic count to 3ppb in the future for bottled water, apple, and grape juice.
Nowadays, bottled water is a top beverage choice for many, but consumers won’t keep paying a premium for something that could diminish their health. If the industry wants to continue leveraging a long-term consumer base, they’ll have to opt for more vigorous filter inspections or bare the burden of potential buyers possibly switching back to good old fashioned tap water.