The Pakistan Quality Standards defines bottled drinking water as, “Bottled drinking waters are waters other than natural mineral waters which are filled into hermetically sealed containers of various compositions forms and capacities that are safe and suitable for direct consumption bottled drinking water is considered food.”
The Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) was established under section 3 of the Act-1996. The establishment of any mineral water plant in Pakistan is required to get a license from the Pakistan Standards Quality Control Authority.
The cost of mineral water business license in Pakistan cost is Rs. 19,000. An application form, which can be obtained for only from the office of the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority and it is to be submitted to the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority. The manufacturer is required to have a laboratory and a technical person, who will be checking the samples for consistent quality. The team from the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority then visits the plant and collects samples. After the conformity of the samples to the standards the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority issues a license.
The Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority has developed standards for bottled and mineral water. All the water plants being established in the country are required to follow these standards. These standards are available for Rs. 1,700. A manufacturer cannot market bottled / mineral water without obtaining a license from the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority. The authority examines the availability of proper facilities including standardized laboratory and purification processing plant for ensuring the quality of purified drinking water with a team of experts. Manufacturing, Stocking and sale of bottled drinking water and bottled mineral water without certification marks license is prohibited under the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority Act. Violation of the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority Standards can lead to punitive action as per law.
The general requirements for establishing a bottled / mineral water plant as developed by Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority are as following:
Suitability of Bottled Mineral Water
The assessment of the suitability of water for human consumption shall be based on consideration of its physical, chemical and microbiological requirements and limits for toxic substances. The water should be free from all chemical and bacteriological contamination which are hazardous to health.
Hygiene Requirements for Bottled Mineral Water
Drinking water for the purpose of bottling shall be prepared in accordance with PS:4639-2004 for the code of practice-General principal of food Hygiene and in accordance with the PS:4718-2001 for code of practice for the collecting, processing and marketing of natural mineral waters.
Packaging Requirements for Bottled Mineral Water
The containers shall be hygienic suitable completely clean and shall not cause any undesirable changes in the tastes, odour or color or quality of the water. It can be inspected at random, just prior to being filled and sealed. It should be packed in hermetically sealed containers of Food Grade material to prevent contamination of bottled water. Filling and sealing operations of containers shall be done in an aseptic atmosphere so as to prevent any contamination.
Transportation Requirements for Bottled Mineral Water
Bottled water shall be transported by any suitable means of transport to protect it from contamination.
10 Requirements for Marketing of Bottled Water in Pakistan
Compliance with PS: 1485-1994 is required for labeling of Pre Packaged Foods, the following provisions shall apply.
- Name of the product for example bottled drinking water
- Brand name or trade name
- Net volumes in System International / Metric System
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Batch number or Code number
- Date of Expiry
- Chemical composition e.g. Sulfate, Magnesium, Potassium etc.
- Pakistan Standard number, PS mark and license number
- Date of bottling
- Location and name of the source.
Sampling of Water for Bottling
- In any consignment all the bottles of the same size and belonging to one batch of the manufacturer or supply shall constitute a LOT
- Each bottle of the sample shall be marked with necessary details of sampling and the bottles for bacteriological testing shall be marked separately
- The bottles of the sample shall be stored in such a manner that there shall be no deterioration of quality of water
- The bottles for bacteriological testing shall be brought to the testing laboratory within one hour, of sampling. If this is not possible the bottles shall be stored at 10 ºC or below and transported to the testing laboratory within 24 hours. In case of small units, the original packing shall be treated as sample.
Criteria for Conformity of Samples
A LOT shall be declared as conforming to the requirements of this specification, if the following conditions are satisfied.
- Each bottle inspected as “A” satisfies the relevant requirements
- Each bottle when tested as in “B” satisfies the relevant information
- Composite sample when tested as in “C” satisfies the relevant requirements
Government of Pakistan as initiated steps to launch programs against substandard bottled water. The Pakistan Council of Research on Water Resources (PCRWR) has launched a campaign against substandard and unlicensed brands of mineral water being sold in the market. The PCRWR has conducted a serried of tests of 65 registered brands of mineral water last month and 8 were found unsafe and some of them substandard. It is recommended to fulfill all the requirements of the Pakistan Quality Control Authority for getting a license for the production and marketing of bottled / mineral water in Pakistan.