GOVERNMENT has banned several water bottling companies for failing to meet basic hygienic requirements. Fifteen out of 49 companies that had applied for licences were registered. Ministry of Health and Child Welfare food control deputy director Mr Freddy Chinyavanhu yesterday said only 21 water brands from 15 companies supplying bottled water had been certified by the Food Standards Advisory Board.
FSAB is the regulatory board that makes random checks on the quality and safety of water for domestic and commercial use.
The board also regulates foodstuffs sold in Zimbabwean shops.
"About 49 companies applied seeking certification and out of that, 21 water brands from 15 companies were allowed to sell water," Mr Chinyavanhu said.
"This means unregistered bottled water brands should be removed from shelves and destroyed."
He said condemned firms found selling bottled water would be prosecuted.
"We have our ministry inspectors working with the city councils health inspectors who check compliance and anyone found operating without approval will be prosecuted.
"In conducting their duties, the inspectors will be guided by the Public Health Act and the Food and Food Standards Act," he said.
The purified water brands certified by Government are ZLG, Glendale, Mr Juicy, Somerby, Schweppes, Ad-Life, Aqua A Splash, Seltzer Natural, Welpure, Brooks, Krystal and Tingamira.
Others are Aqualite, Aqua Crystal, Spar, Born Marche, Pot-O-Gold, Rainbow Towers, Health Harvest, Panem and Dar Eros.
Mr Chinyavanhu said the 21 water brands were certified based on "satisfactory chemical and microbiological test results."
"The companies' bottling factories should also meet minimum hygienic requirements," he said.
"Some companies think that if they have been certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe they are through with the certification process.
"SAZ is not the regulatory authority and they just authorise the companies to use their mark.
"You find out that the water might still be contaminated despite the SAZ certification."
He urged retailers to ensure that their bottled water has a certification letter from Government.
Bottlers are required to keep own continuous water quality check records up to two years.
Government last year banned 40 water-bottling firms for failing to meet safety and quality standards.
This followed an influx of unregulated bottled water suppliers in response to a surge in demand.
Some of the companies have premises that do not meet the required minimum basic hygienic requirements, while others are not bottling their water at the source as required.
Some were violating the factory by-laws requirements of municipal authorities.
Investigations have attributed the proliferation of suppliers to the alleged poor quality of tap water and rising health consciousness by the public.
Although most suppliers indicate the mineral elements content on the label, the quality of water is not just about mineral elements, but also microbiological safety, among other quality requirements.