East Lothian Council

Food Standards advice

Natural Mineral Water

By law, "natural mineral water" means water which is:
(a) microbiologically wholesome
(b) originates in an underground water table or deposit and emerges from a spring tapped at one or more natural or bore exits
(c) can be clearly distinguished from ordinary drinking water by the following characteristics. having been preserved intact because of the underground origin of the water, which has been protected from all risk of pollution:

  • Its nature, which is characterised by its mineral content, trace elements or other constituents and, where applicable, by certain effects;
  • its original state; and
  • is for the time being recognised in the case of water extracted from the ground in Scotland, by the relevant authority.

Before water can be considered for recognition as a natural mineral water, information about the source and the water must be gathered. This includes a hydrogeological description of the source, the physical and chemical characteristics of the water, microbiological analyses and analyses for toxic substances. It must be established that the source is protected from all risk of pollution and that the composition, temperature and other essential characteristics of the water remain stable. To establish stability it is necessary to collect data over a sufficiently long period - normally a minimum of two years - to demonstrate the extent to which the composition varies. The conditions that are attached to the exploitation of natural mineral waters are designed to ensure that the physical and chemical characteristics, safety and microbiological purity of the water at source remain constant.

The Council's Food and Safety section sample the water exploited and bottled at Finlays Natural Mineral Water, Pitcox, Dunbar and also at Purely Scottish Natural Mineral Water, Oldhamstocks, to make sure that chemical and microbiological quality of the water is maintained.

EC Directive 80/777/EEC is the principal control relating to the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters. The Directive outlines the framework to control water extracted from the ground and procedure to recognise the water from the source as a natural mineral water.

The Directives define the characteristics of natural mineral waters and the conditions of exploitation of springs. Member States, which recognize a mineral water as such must justify their decision, which is published on the list of recognized mineral waters in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The Directives lay down very precise rules on the labelling and packaging of natural mineral waters.

Only waters complying with the provisions of the Directives may be marketed as natural mineral waters.

Detailed guidance on mineral water is available from the Food Standards Agency.

John Muir House, Haddington, EH41 3HA

Telephone: 01620 827365

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.