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Emirates Quality Mark for bottled water soon

New system set to unify drinking water standards across the UAE

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Bottled water and related products will not be permitted in the UAE market without the Emirates Quality Mark from September, the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (ESMA) announced yesterday.

The Emirates Quality Mark is ESMA’s mark of approval for products that meet standards set by the authority.

The UAE Cabinet-endorsed Emirates Drinking Water Control System that stipulates quality marks for bottled water will come into effect in September and ESMA will strictly enforce it, a senior official told Gulf News yesterday.

“We have started communicating this to the other authorities concerned and the drinking water industry and they have to start preparations to comply with the new regulations,” said Abdullah Al Muaini, Director of Conformity Affairs at ESMA.

The Cabinet decision on the new nationwide standard system for both bottled and non-bottled drinking water was taken last month and the industry was given six months to implement it.

The new system will also apply to ice blocks sold in supermarkets and all related products such as water tanks, water dispensers, pipes connecting water tanks and taps etc. “So all these products must have Emirates Quality Mark,” the official said.

The federal system is also applicable to tap water because some water -supplying authorities claim that the tap water is fit for drinking and the authority wants to confirm that claim.

The system has unified the standards on drinking water across the UAE. Previously each emirate followed its own safety standards and bottled water was tested by the respective local authorities.

Water companies will have to follow stringent standards beginning with water processing, bottling and transportation to get the quality mark, Al Muaini said. Heavy tankers that transport drinking water will also have to fall in line with the new standards, he said.

The water companies have to mention the source of water on the label. “They can’t claim it is from the spring unless they can prove it; our inspectors will check all such claims,” the official said.

Apart from the quality, the products will be subjected to checks on quantity as well. “If they mention 500ml, it should have the same quantity,” he said.

The authority will coordinate with customs authorities to prevent the import of water products that do not follow the new system, he said. Asked on the share of imported water in the market, Al Muaini said the authority is in the process of obtaining such figures. “Our initial impression is domestic products are more in the market. But we can control the foreign products as well easily,” he explained.