Contamination Concerns Cause Broad Bottled Water Recall

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Several popular chain stores in New Jersey were forced to recall their house-label brands of bottled water due to possible E. Coli contamination.

Niagara Bottling, a national private-label  spring water service, issued a voluntary recall on June 22, asking the public to either boil or not use products manufactured two of its Pennsylvania plants:  Hamburg and Allentown.

Water bottled there on June 10 through June 18 may be tainted and is unsafe to drink. 

New Jersey is one of fifteen states impacted by the recall, including the following brands:

  • Acadia
  • Acme
  • Big Y
  • Best Yet
  • 7-11
  • Niagara
  • Nature’s Place
  • Pricerite
  • Superchill
  • Morning Fresh
  • Shaws
  • Shoprite
  • Western Beef Blue
  • Wegman’s 

The water should be boiled for at least one minute and then cooled before use.

Advocates said it was evidence that bottled water is generally no safer or cleaner than tap water.

"This week’s recall of 14 brands of bottled water from Niagara Bottling is yet another reminder that bottled water is no safer than water from the tap," said Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

“While problems relating to our nation’s aging infrastructure can sometimes compromise the quality of tap water, it’s important to remember that the United States has some of the safest, cleanest water in the world. That’s because tap water is more strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency than bottled water is by the Food & Drug Administration," said Hauter.

Of course, New Brunswick is one of those communities where aging infrastructure has compromised the quality of tap water.

For three years, the strict regulations did not stop the city government from lying to its residents and the state government.  On seven different occasions between 2010 and 2013, the city failed to tell residents and businesses that they should be boiling their water before use.

The city says they have not learned of anyone who sufferred from illness in those incidents, but it is impossible to say for sure.

Similarly, Niagara has said that there have been no reports of any illness or injury since being notified that the spring source was potentially compromised.

“The operator at one of our contracted springs failed to notify us that there was evidence of E. coli bacteria at the spring source,” wrote the company.

Still, Niagara may be playing down the recall, reminding us that it shut down its operations, disinfected its bottling lines and initiated the recall out of caution.

“This recall only relates to spring water produced in our Pennsylvania manufacturing facilities from June 10-18th, 2015. It does not relate to any purified water or any spring water produced outside of Pennsylvania or outside the June 10-18th, 2015 timeframe,” reads the notice. 

Stop & Shop’s Acadia brand, is one of the waters affected by the recall. The grocer’s website lists over a dozen UPC codes comprising all sizes and packaging combinations normally available.

“Concerned customers can return product to the store for a full refund,” according to the grocery store’s webpage.

Brand names of the recalled water sold at other stores include: Big Y, ShopRite, PriceRite, 7-Eleven, and Best Yet.

Is your water affected? Consult the product code on the bottle. If it begins with the letters “F” or “A” and was bottled between the 10th and 15th of this month, your water is recalled.

“Example: A610JUN152000 – Was produced on Line 6 at the Allentown plant on June 10 at 8:00 P.M., and therefore should not be used,” explains a public notice issued by the bottling service.

Multiple pack sizes of Wegmans “Food You Feel Good About” Spring Water, 16.9-ounce bottles, with the following UPC codes are also included in the recall:

• 16.9 ounce, UPC 7789018860
• 16.9 oz, 12-pack, UPC 7789010085
• 16.9 oz, 24-pack, UPC 7789028768
• 16.9 oz, 35-pack, UPC 7789029365

The chain reports that none of its New Jersey stores received the 12-packs, while stores in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York did. 

"Please read the label carefully for the code date and look for Niagara Bottling, LLC," reads information on Wegmans.com.

"This bottled water is treated with a continuous ozonation process, a proven kill step for E.coli," reads additional information over the reason for the recall, which added that it was issued "out of an abundance of caution."

E. coli can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms.

The water can be returned to Wegmans for a full refund. Shoppers can also call Wegmans Consumer Affairs office at 855-934-3663, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Niagara Bottling, LLC Consumer Service can be contacted at (877) 487-7873.