THE Consumers Association of Penang is shocked that the Health Ministry has failed to enforce regulations pertaining to vended water, even though this regulation had been added to the Food Regulations 1985 almost two years ago.
The ministry’s inaction has resulted in vending machines that dispense water being contaminated with faecal bacteria, as exposed in a recent report in the press.
Many consumers, who have been relying on such vending machines for their drinking water supply, would have consumed the contaminated water.
In the past, tap water was freely consumed by Malaysians.
As the quality of tap water has deteriorated, consumers have had to resort to other means of obtaining so-called “clean water” by installing water filters in their homes, consuming bottled water and buying water from vending machines.
Most consumers are not aware that the so-called “clean water” is hazardous to health.
For example, filters in home water filtration systems are a source of bacterial contamination if they are not changed regularly.
In the case of bottled water, it is widely viewed as an environmental menace because of the amount of energy required in producing and transporting the product.
Most bottled water comes in polyethylene bottles, indicated by the number “1”, PET or PETE.
When the bottles are kept for long periods or under warm conditions, they begin to leach chemicals into the water.
Here, bottled water is transported by lorries and, at some point in the day, the temperature can rise to more than 30ºC. These bottles are then stored in warehouses for an indefinite period of time before they are put up for sale.
In spite of the increase in water rates, consumers have not been provided with clean and safe water.
The recent report on contaminated water from vending machines should be a wake-up call to ensure that the quality of drinking water and tap water is safe via the enforcement of various laws related to water quality.
In view of this, the association calls on the water authorities and Health Ministry to enforce the existing legislation, so that consumers get access to clean and safe water. S.M. Mohamed Idris, president, Consumers Association of Penang NST Letters 4 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:09 AM