Health scare over fake Zam Zam water

August 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Leicestershire County Council has issued a warning to Muslims in the area regarding the dangers of drinking fake holy water. It warned that bottles of Zam Zam water should be avoided as it could be contaminated with high levels of arsenic.

Zam Zam water is a sacred water that comes from a well near Mecca in Saudi Arabia which has been flowing for millennia. Whilst pilgrims on the Hajj often take the water out of the country for personal use, they are not allowed to export it for commercial use.

Leicestershire County Council warned that the Zam Zam water on sale could have up to three times the legal limit of arsenic, as well as containing nitrates which can increase the risks of developing cancer, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

Leicestershire County Council has warned that as well as being dangerous, the Zam Zam water might not even be real. If people see it in a shop they have been warned not to buy it as it is illegal and poses a safety risk.

The warning came two days before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. This is also not the first time it has come to attention, with the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and Trading Standards issuing similar warnings in previous years.

For shops selling the water, the punishment could be severe. The penalty for selling unlicensed water is an unlimited fine or two years’ imprisonment, and traders also face a £20,000 fine or six months in prison if found to be selling water that is not safe for consumption.

David Bull, the head of trading standards at Leicestershire County Council, said that anyone with any knowledge of Zam Zam water being sold should contact Trading Standards.

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Consumers returning to bottled water

August 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Despite campaigns by environmental groups, it appears that consumers are returning to bottled water. A recent statement by the International Bottled Water Association argues that public opinion has moved away from a desire to ban bottled water, with consumers instead opting to return in droves to a product they view as both “healthy and convenient”.

Following a 1.4% increase in bottled water sales in the UK in 2009 and the recent decision by Concord, in Massachusetts, to reverse its ban on the sale of bottled water, it appears that the industry is in the midst of a comeback.

The news will come as a blow to environmental campaigners, who have targeted single-use bottled water due to the level of non-recycled waste that the industry produces, with campaigners pointing to recent estimates that 90% of bottles are not recycled. With the 38 billion water bottles ending up in landfill sites throughout the world in 2006 contributing to potentially devastating environmental implications, consumers now seem to be prioritising convenience over climate concerns.

Jonny Forsyth, Senior Drinks Analyst at Mintel, a market intelligence group, suggests that “after years of not having to worry about the pennies, the first question consumers started asking when purchasing was ‘Is this value for money?'” He later stated: “However, with consumer confidence rising over recent months, consumers have started to loosen their purse strings and bottled water has been one of the beneficiaries.”

In spite of predictions of a terminal decline in the UK market after volume sales fell by 11% between 2006 and 2008, it appears that renewed consumer confidence has sparked a return to popularity for bottled water.

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Thames water accept responsibility for sewage leak

August 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Thames Water has been forced to accept responsibility for a sewage leak that killed hundreds of fish along a 5km stretch of waterway.

The Environment Agency was called to Silchester Brook in Hampshire last week after members of the public spotted sewage entering a watercourse. Current estimates suggest that the leak has killed hundreds of fish, including perch and trout.

Having accepted the blame for the incident, Thames Water have turned their attention to discovering the cause of the accident by launching an investigation to establish the cause of the tragic event. As part of their apology, Thames Water have also offered to restock the stretch with fish once a cleanup operation is over.

As well as looking into the potential impact of the leak, the Environment Agency was quick to thank locals whose speedy reaction enabled the agency to act quickly. An investigation into the cause of events has also been launched by the Environment Agency. In addition to initiating a cleanup operation following the death of hundreds of fish, the agency has also had to act to prevent other animals from drinking the polluted water.

Ben Govan, an Environment Agency officer, informed the media that “Environment officers are currently on site collecting evidence and sampling, and we have staff taking further samples from the river and doing some ecological monitoring.”

Reports have also suggested that the number of fish deaths could have been far higher if it hadn’t been for the quick thinking and actions of local farmers, who apparently saved hundreds of fish, including chub, trout and perch, by rescuing them from the toxic water and placing them in a makeshift aquarium on a local farm.

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