Highland Spring challenges EFSA water ruling

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition European union Efsa

Watery argument: Highland is determined to challenge EFSA's ruling
Watery argument: Highland is determined to challenge EFSA's ruling
Water supplier Highland Spring Group is determined to challenge the EU’s recent ruling on health claims for water, despite further clarification from Brussels.

Last week the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) appeared to ban manufacturers from claiming that water prevents dehydration.

Clarifying the ruling later, the authority conceded that water companies could talk about water and dehydration. But they could not make health claims for water since dehydration was not classified as a disease under health claim rules.

Right to mock

Les Montgomery, chief executive of Highland Spring Group, said: “The media is right to mock this EU directive which is based on a legal technicality and just another typical example of Brussels bureaucracy – a ridiculous ruling in the midst of the current Euro crisis.

“Everyone knows water is essential for health. As far as Highland Spring is concerned, we will continue to champion bottled water as one of the healthiest drinks available and the only beverage you need to hydrate as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

A spokeswoman for the Highland Group told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the firm planned to revise the dossier supporting the health claim for hydration through the European Federation of Bottled Water – the European representative body for producers of bottled water.

The spokeswoman said:“The next steps in this process are already underway and until more clarity is received around the ruling and its implications, it’s business as normal for Highland Spring,”


A spokesman for the British Soft Drinks Association said: “The stories in some of the newspapers… do not quite capture the whole picture regarding the approval of health claims relating to water and hydration​.” EFSA’s rejection of the hydration claim was based on technicalities, he added.

EFSA had approved claims that water can help regulate the body’s temperature and help it carry out normal physical and cognitive functions.

An analyst from market research firm Mintel told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “To be honest, I’m not sure ​[the rulings are] going to make that much of a difference. Consumers are not going to be able to tell the difference between the claims and it’s going to be business as usual.”

But, in the long term, the bottled water industry should be wary about maintaining its image as the drink of choice for people looking to stay hydrated while active, he said. The EFSA ruling implied that it is all fluids, not just water, that aid hydration and bottled water could lose its dominant position if it’s not careful, he added.

Related topics Legal Drinks

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