One-third of city water distributors unlicensed, Food & Drug survey finds

The Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) will in the coming months publish a list of approved water processing facilities in the city after a recent survey showed that over a third are unlicensed and some are selling water that failed bacterial and chemical tests.

In a statement released yesterday, GA-FDD Director Marlan Cole noted that a recent exercise, conducted over a six-month period, saw 87 water samples collected and submitted for analysis from 29 water processing facilities in the George-town and Greater Georgetown areas.

These samples were analysed for microbiological and chemical parameters to verify compliance with safety requirements and of the 29 facilities that samples were taken from, 11 were found to be operating without the necessary licence from the Department, while of the 87 samples submitted for tests, 15 or 17% were found to be unsatisfactory.

As a consequence, the Department is calling on all water processing factories to conform to all of the Department’s requirements as it relates to the sale and distribution of treated water in five-gallon bottles.

Specifically, manufacturers and distributors must have a valid licence issued by the Department, which is an indicator of its compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Additionally, bottles used must be properly cleaned, sanitised, labelled and sealed and no funnel should be used to transfer water to bottles prior to sale and/or distribution.

Consumers are being advised that when purchasing treated water from various water processing facilities to ensure they are properly labeled and sealed and to report any company that fails to comply with the department’s requirements as it relates to the sale of treated water to the general public.

Consumers have also been advised to demand to see a valid licence issued by the GA-FDD when making purchases.

GA-FDD has committed to repeating the survey in the coming months and publishing a list if approved facilities. It also stressed that processors who insist on operating without a valid licence will be asked to cease operations.

The Department has also committed to initiating additional efforts and communication at its upcoming National Food Safety and Control Committee meeting, which is to be hosted on August 7th. At this meeting, Environmental Health Officers from the respective regions and areas outside of Georgetown and Greater Georgetown will be asked to initiate similar inspection, sampling and submission exercises.