THE Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) is set to increase monitoring on water bottling companies amid revelations that some were not meeting required standards, SAZ director general Eve Gadzikwa said.
Report by Musa Dube
Speaking in Bulawayo, Gadzikwa said SAZ was aware that there were companies that were not adhering to set standards and her organisation was going to step up efforts to curb the problem.
“SAZ is very aware of the problems in water bottling firms. We are going to increase the surveillance of our clients because when you are certified today, that does not mean you are certified for life,” she said.
“We have over 60 bottling companies that are registered, but there are about 13 that have complied so far with the SAZ certification. We have others that are still being tested by the regulator,” said Gadzikwa.
The SAZ official said it was critical for consumers to verify that a product is certified before purchasing it.
“When you buy water you have to look at the certification and be sure about the expiry date because after the expiry, there is no guarantee of quality,” she said.
She said SAZ had resolved to make public, on quarterly basis, the companies that would have complied with the certification process.
“As SAZ, we have made a resolution that we are going to regularly publish in the press the status of the bottled water companies certified by SAZ. These are some of the measures that SAZ is going to take to safeguard the community,” said Gadzikwa.
“We are also going to interact with the regulator, who in this case is the Food Standards Advisory Board [FSAB], to give us updates on water quality,” said Gadzikwa.
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.
“In order to make sure that our results are comparable, SAZ is going to set up an inter-laboratory with other bottled water companies so that we can be able to compare whatever we say is certified by SAZ,” she said.
She urged the consumers to report any cases where they found water that was not satisfactory to them, so that they could investigate.
Last year the government ban-ned several water bottling firms for failing to meet safety and quality standards.
This followed an influx of bottled water suppliers in response to a surge in demand.
The closed companies had premises that did not meet the required minimum basic hygienic requirements, while others were not bottling their water at the source as required.
Some were violating the factory by-laws requirements of municipal authorities.
Currently there are reports that suppliers of bottled water are selling contaminated water, which, according to the Government Analyst Laboratory, is unfit for human consumption.