Press Release 21.02.2024

Scandal over illegally disinfected mineral water: foodwatch sues Nestlé

The international consumer organisation foodwatch has filed a lawsuit in France against the mineral water producers Nestlé Waters and Sources Alma. The companies had disinfected contaminated mineral water using illegal methods, such as UV or carbon filters, and had sold bottled tap water as mineral water. Well-known brands such as Perrier, Vittel, Vichy and Cristaline are affected. The products were probably sold across Europe.

"Nestlé and Co. have deceived, ripped off and defrauded consumers. The companies illegally treated contaminated water and sold ordinary tap water as high-quality mineral water. Nobody is above the law - not even multinationals like Nestlé", said Ingrid Kragl from foodwatch France.  

French journalists brought the case to light at the end of January. Nestlé admitted that it had used the banned methods on mineral water but had since stopped. The aim had been to guarantee food safety. Sources were apparently contaminated with germs. According to the relevant EU directive, natural mineral water must fulfil certain criteria: It must be of original purity and come from underground water sources that are protected from pollution. Only a few treatment processes are permitted in the production and processing of natural mineral water, but not the methods used by Nestlé and Sources Alma. 

According to media reports, the French authorities are said to have been informed by Nestlé about the prohibited practices as early as 2021. However, according to foodwatch France, the French government has not informed the European Commission or the Member States about the non-compliance of the products marketed by Nestlé Waters and Sources Alma. No information on this topic is available either in the European warning system RASFF or in the fraud network FFN. In order to clarify the role of the French state in the case, foodwatch France has sent a letter to the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, asking her to comment. foodwatch called on the EU Commission to ensure that such fraud no longer occurs.