Friday, August 18, 2017

FDA to clean up the drinking water industry

The Food and Drug Administration is once again taking aim at toxic drinking water, attempting to stop bacteria-laden and unregistered bottles from proliferating in the markets.

Photo: StaffPhoto: Staff

Last week, the FDA took action against six unregistered and unlicensed water producing factories in Yangon. The six unregistered companies were based in Hlaing, East Dagon, South Okkalapa, Mayangone, Thingangyun and Taikkyi townships, according to the FDA.

“According to a survey conducted last month, we found bacteria and some acidic [chemicals] in the purified water,” U Than Htut, deputy director general of the Department of Food and Drug Administration said on January 28.

“In the market, we found both registered and unregistered products,” he said.

He told the media that the department will crackdown on unlicensed drinking water brands, as well as unsafe water.

“We don’t allow products to be sold in the market while they are waiting for registration documents to be processed. We took action in the past but now we will accelerate the crackdown,” he said.

U Tun Zaw, FDA food director, said that department will submit all the drinking water products to four rounds of testing. “Some products we found bacteria only after the fourth test,” he said.  

U Than Htut added that the department is trying speed up the registration process and quickly test the samples applying for a licence.  

“Some producers have complained that the department takes a long time to register the products. We are trying to quicken the pace, but producers still need to obey the guidelines,” he said.

He added that if consumers encounter poor quality or unregistered water it should be reported to the department.

A spokesperson from the Food and Drug Administration in Yangon Region said market checks will be an ongoing event.

“We have already warned the producers and made announcements about the need to register all products,” she said. “If the people drink unqualified water, it may not be safe for them”.

Daw Kyi Kyi, a resident of Tarmwe township, said, “I have to buy four or five [large water] bottles in a week. I buy from boys who are selling them by handcart. It is good that the department will be testing the water quality to ensure it is safe.”  

The FDA has registered 974 purified water drinking products. Producers need to register their products with the FDA, and also obtain a production licence from the Ministry of Industry and the City Development Committee after securing the approval of FDA.

In 2015, the FDA accidentally let slip preliminary findings from unpublished research on Yangon’s water supply that showed 44 percent of popular brands were contaminated, including with potentially deadly bacteria such as E coli. The brand names of the offending water companies were never publicly released.