Nestlé admits having used prohibited treatments on mineral waters to maintain their “food safety”

2024-01-29 12:01:13

The brands concerned, Perrier, Vittel, Hépar and Contrex, all owned by Nestlé, are now “fully compliant with the regulatory framework applicable in France”promises the company, who says he abandoned banned treatments over the past three years.

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European regulations prohibit any disinfection of mineral water, which must naturally be of high microbiological quality – unlike tap water, which is disinfected before becoming drinkable. A regulation whose interpretation excludes the ultraviolet treatments and activated carbon filters used by Nestlé Waters until at least 2021, without the exact cessation date being known.

But the company justifies the use of these techniques by “changes in the environment around its sources, which can sometimes make it difficult to maintain the stability of essential characteristics” of its waters, in other words their food safety and their mineral composition.

Closed wells and layoffs

Nestlé Waters decided in 2021 to inform the health authorities of their use of these filtration techniques. The cessation of the use of these devices forced the company to suspend the activity of some of its wells in the Vosges, due to “their sensitivity to climatic hazards”leading to a reduction in the production volumes of Hépar (by two) and Contrex.

Concerning Perrier, Nestlé has reallocated some of the wells in Gard towards the production of a new brand of flavored waters and energy drinks, Maison Perrier, which is therefore not subject to regulations on mineral waters.

The cessation of the incriminated treatments, concomitant with the end of the marketing of the Vittel brand in Germany, also motivated the group to launch a social plan in the Vosges, resulting in the elimination of 171 positions, without dismissal, according to an agreement of November with the unions.

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“It’s a company that does what it wants and no one has the means to control what it does”he criticized. “For me, there is more than a failure of controls, there is an abandonment (…) of the State, of successive powers » for years, he further estimated.

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