Bottled Water Bash: Networks Continue Assault
Bottled water has been attacked recently for environmental damage, but now Aquafinaâs bottler, PepsiCo is under fire for not previously disclosing the source of its water.
âDonât let that scenic [Aquafina] logo fool you, this water is not bottled from a mountain stream,â said Rob Marciano on CNNâs âAmerican Morning.â Marcianoâs report on July 30 informed viewers than PepsiCo has disclosed the source of its water after pressure from Corporate Accountability International.
CBSâs Richard Schlessinger reported on July 27 that itâs âjust tap water.â
ABC âWorld News with Charles Gibson,â NBC âNightly News,â CBS âEvening Newsâ on July 27 as well as the July 30 CNN âAmerican Morningâ all made it sound like PepsiCo, the bottler of the countryâs best-selling brand of bottled water Aquafina, had been dishonest.
Â· âAquafina. It sounds so nice, so refined, so special. You might think this biggest selling brand of bottled water must come from some place special. Well, today we found out it doesnât,â said CBS âEvening Newsâ anchor Katie Couric.
Â· âNow PepsiCo, which sells it [Aquafina], has agreed to come clean about what P.W.S. means â public water source,â said ABC correspondent Ned Potter on âWorld News.â
Â· âThe blue labels on bottles of Aquafina water conjure up images of crystal clear mountain springs. But the words âpurified drinking waterâ donât tell you where the product comes from,â said NBC correspondent George Lewis on âNightly News.â
On July 27, PepsiCo made the decision to change the labeling on its water from âP.W.Sâ to âPublic Water Sourceâ for clarification reasons. The water still undergoes various purification steps.
Joseph K. Doss, the president of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), told the Business & Media Institute that, âThe FDA does not require you to put that [source information] on the label.â
The networks downplayed those steps that make bottled water more than âjust tap water.â They also ignored the convenience and portability of the product.
âWe are being made to believe right now that for some reason bottled water may be healthier, cleaner, safer than tap water and in reality, thatâs not true,â said Gigi Kellett of the CAI advocacy group on the July 27 âWorld News.â She was also quoted by âNightly News.â
One look at the CAI Web site and its strident anti-corporate goals are clear. The group, which supports âinternational social justice,â fights against many companies including Phillip Morris, Wal-Mart, and Halliburton. CAI also counts Greenpeace, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Wake-Up Wal-Mart and other groups among its allies.
â[C]orporations are increasingly trying to take control of public water resources and systems and weâre seeing that these bottled water corporations are actually changing the way that people think about water,â said Kellett on WBUR Bostonâs July 3 âOn Point with Tom Ashbrook.â
Doss refuted this notion. âWe are such a small user of groundwater in this country,â he told BMI citing a recent study that found only 0.02 percent of groundwater is used by the bottled water industry.
Stephen Kay, vice president of IBWA, told the Business & Media Institute on July 10 that bottled water is meant to be a beverage option â and bottlers are not suggesting it is a superior product to tap water.
âItâs not a bottle versus tap water issue to us,â said Kay. âIt is a legitimate food product. It has a place in our free market economy.â
Even one critic of bottled water who has led the campaign scrutinizing the industryâs practices at least tried to put things in perspective. â[W]e certainly need to keep bottled water in perspective compared to coal burning power plants orâor driving SUVs,â said Charles Fishman, editor-at-large, Fast Company magazine during âOn Point with Tom Ashbrook.â