Harare — THERE are only 19 licensed bottled water dealers in Zimbabwe and all unlicensed players in the industry should cease operations and have their bottled water removed from retail outlets, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has said.
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, recently launched a full-scale inquiry into the operations of bottled water dealers where it was discovered the bulk of them were unlicensed and produced substandard water.
Health and Child Welfare Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa said it was difficult to quantify the unlicensed bottled water dealers, as they could not be accounted for.
"To come up with this list, we checked with all local authorities. For me to say how many unlicensed water dealers are in the country is a difficult task as they are difficult to account for because of the illegality of their activities," he said.
The minister yesterday released a list of the 19 companies and their brands, which he said, were licensed.
The licensed dealers are Somerby Farm Private Limited, who produce Somerby Natural Mineral Water, Uptrends Water, which produces Absolutely Pure Water and Rainbow Hotels Pure Water, Makunim Investments, producers of Aqua Boa Mineral Water, Datlabs, producers of Red Seal Water and Datlife Mineral Water and Water Coolers Private Limited producers of Bulk Bottled Water and refrigerated water dispensers.
Cairns Foods, producers of Border Streams mineral water and Border Streams Spring Water, Dairiboard Zimbabwe, producers of Aquatic Mineral Water, Leau De Vice, and Family Favourites Products, producers of Family Favourites Mineral Water are also licensed.
Licch Natural Water, producers of Licch Natural Mineral water, Century Refrigeration, who produce Century Still Natural Water, Glendale Spring, who produce Glendale Spring Mineral Water, Rainbow Beverages, producers of Mr Juicy Mineral Water and Tanganda who produce Tinga Mira Water are also on the list.
The others are Schweppes Central Africa, producers of Schweppes Mineral water, West Beverages Foods, producers of Spring Valley Mineral Water, Chrome Park, producers of Ad Life Mineral Water, Aqua Crystal, producers of Pit 'o' Gold and Nilestome Enterprises, producers of Krystal Still Water.
"These companies' bottled water products are on the approved list of the bottled water, hence their products may be sold in our shops for public consumption," Dr Parirenyatwa said, adding that a major clampdown was now on for illegal bottled water dealers.
"We only have 19 licensed bottled water dealers. The other ones are illegal and they should shut down. They will be thoroughly followed up and their waters should be taken off the shelves.
"We will have to prosecute them in terms of the Public Health Act and the Food and Food Standards Act," said the Minister.
Dr Parirenyatwa said experts from his Ministry would continue to monitor the activities of the licensed dealers, to make sure that they adhere to the required health standards.
The current water shortages and the increasingly deteriorating quality of treated water in cities had seen the rise in the demand for bottled water.
Several companies producing bottled water emerged as result of the situation.