PARIS: Consumer watchdog Foodwatch said it was filing a legal complaint on Wednesday (Feb 21) against food giant Nestle and another group over them allegedly fraudulently treating water for their top mineral water brands.

A government probe reported by media last month said about 30 per cent of mineral water sold in France had undergone purification treatment only meant to be used on tap water.

Foodwatch said it was lodging its complaint with a Paris court against Nestle Waters, behind brands such as Perrier and Vittel, and the Sources Alma group, which also owns several water labels.

“This is a massive fraud for which Nestle Waters, the Sources Alma group and the French government must answer,” the European watchdog said.

“Nobody, not even a multinational like Nestle, is above the law,” Foodwatch spokeswoman Ingrid Kragl said.

The NGO claimed Nestle Waters and Sources Alma had “illegally processed their bottled waters and then sold them without informing consumers”.

French law, based on a European Union directive, forbids such purification of mineral water, which is supposed to be of naturally high quality before bottling.

French prosecutors last month said they had opened an investigation into suspected fraud by Nestle Waters after a complaint by France’s ARS health regulator.

They spoke after Le Monde and Radio France reported that a government investigation had concluded in 2022 that “almost 30 per cent of commercial brands undergo non-compliant treatments”.

Nestle Waters said it put some top brands, such as Perrier and Vittel, through ultraviolet light and active carbon filters “to guarantee food safety”, and had informed French authorities about this in 2021.

A government source told AFP that authorities had found “no health risk” linked to the bottled water.

Foodwatch said it had also written to the European Commission, denouncing “the complacency of France, which … should have alerted European authorities and the other member states importing these waters”.


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