Our bottles are safe, water suppliers in Oman assure consumers
October 7, 2017 | 9:03 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan, [email protected]
Chemicals that leach from plastic bottles left exposed to sunlight are often known to cause cancer. - File picture used for illustrative purposes only

Muscat: In the wake of Muscat Municipality warning residents about the harmful effects of storing plastic bottles under direct sunlight, local water companies have asked people in Oman to call their toll-free numbers if the water they drink is not up to standard.

Read here: People in Oman asked not to drink from plastic bottles kept in sun

“For your health, avoid keeping and storing drinking water under the sun,” Muscat Municipality had previously tweeted.

P. Panneerselvam, regional manager for quality assurance at Oman Oasis had much to add about how his company ensured water was as fit as it could be for consumption.

“We must ensure that the freshest products reach the customer, that means they must be kept in a clean and cool place, right from sourcing the raw materials to making the finished products,” he said.

“We have a quality management system called TPM (Total Product Management) in addition to our ISO 22000 standardisation. This system will ensure that the products have been taken care of with respect to time and temperature.

“We identify any gaps in the system and act upon them. Earlier, this plan only had 10 per cent implementation, but now we have implemented this across 99 per cent of our distribution networks,” added Panneerselvam.

“Before dispatching our products to any place, our trucks have be covered with tarpaulin. There should also be some headspace for air circulation, and we also follow good warehouse practices. We also have a toll-free number, so we appreciate any customer feedback, and we conduct customer feedback every three months.”

Oman’s National Mineral Water Company, which has under its umbrella the Tanuf, Salsabeel, Assaha and Jabal Akhdar brands of bottled water, as well as the Effect energy drink, highlighted some of the safe practices it followed.

“Store water in a clean, dry and cool place, away from odours and pollution,” warned Khawar Nadeem, factory manager for Oman NMWC. “This should be strictly followed by stockists, retailers and finally, consumers. Failure to do so may create physical contamination, such as taste and odour variation, if water is kept alongside with detergents, strongly odorous materials and perfumes.

“If they’re kept in unhygienic conditions, microbial contamination may occur,” he added. “The storage declaration is mentioned on labels in both English and Arabic, and the residents or consumers just have to follow them as is.

“NMWC quality assurance and warehouse personnel will not allow our truck to load the finished goods if they are found to be in abnormal conditions, or are unclean,” explained Nadeem.

“They will not allow a fully loaded truck to go out without proper covering.”

Chemicals that leach from plastic bottles left exposed to sunlight are often known to cause cancer.

“Plastic bottles are commonly made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET),” said Dr. Khezia Resma, dietician at Burjeel Hospital. “This type of container is very suitable for water as it is lightweight, clear and durable,” she added.

“However, it may leach antimony, a substance used to catalyse and retard flame in PET. Leaking of antimony is more likely to happen if liquid remains long in a PET container specially if left out in high temperature like exposure to sunlight and water bottles left in hot temperature inside vehicles, garages and closed areas where no air circulates.

“Antimony is considered a carcinogenic substance and people with long exposure to this develops respiratory and skin diseases,” added Resma.

“Usually these products are down cycled for manufacturing of other goods of lower quality than the original PET container, after initial use. It is best to store water and other beverages in glass containers as they will not leach out harmful substances.”

Oman’s Public Authority for Consumer Protection also asked people to follow proper storage techniques.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests 1,000 ppm (parts-per-million) or less,” they said. “In bottled drinking water, this should be between 100 and 600ppm.

“The Public Authority for Consumer Protection calls upon all merchants and suppliers to abide by the provisions of the Consumer Protection Law and its executive regulations to avoid legal accountability,” added PACP.

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