The use of prohibited treatments to purify mineral waters, recognized Monday by the Nestlé groupconcerns around a third of brands in France, reported Tuesday The world and Radio France, citing a report from Igas inspectors.
“The work revealed that nearly 30% of commercial designations undergo non-compliant processing,” write the two media, referring to the “conclusions” of a report from the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (Igas), submitted to the government in July 2022.
30% of commercial designations concerned
“The mission (of Igas) has no doubt about the fact that the proportion of 30% (of the commercial names concerned) underestimates the phenomenon and that all ore carriers are concerned”, it is indicated in this report, assure Le Monde and Radio France.
“This report contains data subject to business secrecy,” a government source said on Tuesday.
This source believes “that no health risk linked to the quality of bottled water has been identified at this stage”.
In its investigation, Radio France nevertheless underlines that according to the Igas inspectors, if “overall”, the “level of conformity is high for bottled water, it would not be prudent to conclude that the health risk is perfectly controlled, particularly microbiological risk”.
Of the “non-compliant processing practices”
The government source confirmed that an “inspection mission of natural mineral water and spring water packaging plants” in France was entrusted to Igas, following an approach from Nestlé in the summer of 2021 which had acknowledged to the authorities “non-compliant processing practices on (its) production sites”.
These practices were revealed in the press on Monday by the world number one in mineral water Nestlé Waters, which, taking the lead, assured that they were no longer used in its brands (Perrier, Vittel, Hépar and Contrex) .
Authorized for tap water or “water made drinkable by treatment”, purification techniques such as activated carbon filters or ultraviolet rays are prohibited for natural mineral waters or spring waters.
A preliminary investigation opened
According to The world and Radio France, the affair began at the end of 2020, when a former employee of the company Sources Alma, which produces around thirty bottled waters in France including Cristaline, Saint-Yorre and Vichy Célestins, reported to the fraud repression (DGCCRF) “suspicious practices in a group factory”.
This investigation by the DGCCRF led to a preliminary investigation opened by the Cusset public prosecutor’s office (Allier) targeting acts of deception, specify the two media.
Another judicial investigation has been opened targeting the Nestlé Waters group for regulatory breaches, the government source confirmed, without specifying the location. According to Radio France and Le Monde, it was opened by the Epinal public prosecutor’s office.