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Bottling standards soon


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STANDARDS ARE ON the way to govern the bottling of water and natural coconut water.This was revealed on Thursday at a seminar on standards in the National Housing Corporation office complex, Warrens, St Michael, attended by local manufactures.But wayside vendors don’t have to worry according to chief technical officer (specifications) at the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), Fabian Scott. He explained the standards were for packaged coconut water only.“We Barbadians can continue to enjoy our freshly cut coconuts. However, if a vendor decided they wanted to bottle and package it for sale, they would then be subject to these standards,” he said.He said he expected manufacturers to start producing natural bottled coconut water – made without any additives – in a “big way” within the next five years which was why they decided to draft standards for that commodity as well.In his presentation, Scott also said Barbados produced around 1.6 million litres of water last year and imported around 4.3 million litres. He said there were previous studies that showed that some bottled water contained extremely high concentrations of bacteria as well as traces of faecal matter.“We want to regulate because water is vital and a main ingredient in most foods and beverages. We are also seeking to protect national health; safeguard national productivity and decrease health expenditure,” he said.Scott wished to emphasise, however, the standards were not a “panacea” for solving all the issues.“I would suggest manufacturers consider a health risk management plan to evaluate what the potential hazards are for contamination,” he said. Project manager for the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)/Inter-American Development Bank/Multi-lateral Investment Fund/Small and Medium sized Enterprises project, Dr Michael Seepersaud, said they would be attending a Council for Trade and Economic Development meeting next month to present the draft for approval. They hoped to have the go-ahead for Barbados and the other 14 CARICOM countries by August 1. (CA)