Efforts to curb illegal bottling of water

Photo A file image of a worker distributing bottled water in Yangon. Photo: Thiri Lu

27 March 2019 - Source: Myanmar Times - The government will take action against people and businesses bottling water improperly for sales to the public in Yangon, says U Ye Htut Oo, chair of the Myanmar Drinking Water Entrepreneurs Association.

It is difficult to control the prices of bottled across townships in Yangon, as the city's area is wide and illegally bottled water is being sold at low prices, U Ye Htut Oo said.

"Water is being illegaly bottled and sold at low prices by purifying tap water using filters meant for household use. Legitimate companies which follow good manufacturing practices want to raise prices as they are currently unable to make profit, but cannot do so due to the presence of illegally bottled water in the market," he said.

"If members of the public know of illegal water-bottling operations, they can submit a report containing photo evidence with an address to the association. The association will then forward the complaints to the Department of Food and Drug Administration (DFDA) and the Department of Consumer Affairs, which then carry out inspections," he said.

The association provided assistance when government authorities carried out inspections of eight illegal bottled-water producers in Yangon this year. Some of the inspected factories were found to have DFDA permits but were not in compliance with DFDA's standards, therefore they were given suspension orders and told to improve standards, U Ye Htut Oo said.

The association will hold an awareness talks on the importance of clean drinking water once a month in schools, wards and villages starting from this May.

"We have our own tube wells and the water is treated and sterilised using modern techniques through five stages to produce purified drinking water. We also sterilise the water bottles before putting water into them," the managing director of one drinking water business told Myanmar Times.

The association advises people who are buying bottled drinking water to check if the bottle features DFDA approval, that the brand is stamped on the top and middle of the bottle uniformly, and the quality of the water.

Price harmonisation for bottled water bottles has been implemented by the association in Nay Pyi Taw, Magwe, Mon, Kayah and Kachin.

"The quality of bottled drinking water cannot be distinguished with just the naked eye. It depends much on the quality of water. If particles, debris and discoloration is found, the water should not be consumed. It is hard to tell the quality of water by just checking visually, only proper laboratory tests can tell for sure. That is why we need the help of the public to combat improper water bottling," one official from FDA said.

Myanmar Purified Drinking Water Association was established in March 2017 and it has by far about 2000 members. Their branches have been opened in a number of regions and states – Mandalay, Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magwe, Kachin, southern Shan and northern Shan.

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