Bottled water is the biggest selling beverage in the United States. It has been around longer than you might imagine. The first recorded commercial bottled water was in 1767 and was sold and distributed by Jackson’s Spa in Boston. The health benefits of bottled water have been one of it’s selling points since its inception but why did it become so popular in modern days and can it turn bad? How safe is bottled water really?
It wasn’t until the 1960’s that bottled water started to become popular and commonplace. The introduction of plastic bottles made the product lighter and more manageable and increased sales but it was probably Perrier that really brought the drink to the mass market. With their distinctive green bottles and recognizable marketing campaign Perrier became popular very quickly and other companies like Evian followed suit.
From there we saw the introduction of cans, multipacks, flavored waters, and both still and sparkling water. Much was made of the qualities of different waters. Do you choose natural mineral water, spring water, or just plain bottled water, and are they better than drinking tap water?
Why drink bottled water vs tap water?
In many regions and countries, tap water is perfectly safe to drink but some people prefer not to. In lots of countries around the world, water simply is not safe enough to drink. In Thailand and most of Southeast Asia you wouldn’t dare drink the water. If the locals don’t then you shouldn’t either.
But it’s not just for sanitary reasons that it became popular. It is convenient to carry a small bottle when exercising for rehydration. On the subway, in summer it is wise to have water available. It is normal to see bottled water on tables during a meal along with the wine.
Can bottled water go bad?
The simple answer is no. The water cannot go bad. Bottled water is sealed in very sanitary conditions. The water itself contains no other products such as sugar that could spoil so theoretically it will last forever. This changes once you remove the seat and lid. Once it is open you have exposed the water to germs and if you are drinking from the bottle then it is possible tiny food particles will enter the water.
Placing the water in a fridge will slow down any bacterial growth but eventually, the water will go stale but not quickly. Even after opening the water if kept in the fridge, it should be fine for about six days. Like any foodstuffs, if it starts to taste funny or takes on a strange odor then use it on the flowers.
Why are there expiration dates if it doesn’t go bad?
There are a few reasons some manufacturers put expiration dates on. The FDA does not require BBF (Best Before For) dates but some companies choose to do this themselves.
Firstly the water company wants you to enjoy their product at it’s best so they possibly believe it should be consumed by X date.
Secondly, they don’t want to see out of date packaging on the store shelves so the dates help store workers to rotate the stock.
Thirdly there is a risk that the plastic bottles could start leaching chemicals into the water after a length of time. This doesn’t mean you should worry but a 7-year-old bottle of water might not taste as it has just been filtered through glaciers.
Is it safe to drink old water?
It should be perfectly safe to drink sealed, unopened bottled water. However in reality, if you did find a case of water in your garage that has been around a few years and it tastes slightly strange you won’t be able to complain to customer service. This is another reason for those expiration dates. With water being so easily available it is unlikely you will end up with old water, you don’t even need to go to the supermarket to get new bottles you can call a local company and use the water delivery services by Diamond Rock for example.
So you can see now that bottled water is not just a handy way to rehydrate but in some countries, it is absolutely essential. The water has an almost unlimited lifespan if stored correctly and unopened. It will last about a week in a fridge after opening and plays an important part on social occasions along with food and wine.
There are plenty of choices for flavored water, smart waters, and sparkling. Whatever your choice is just remember to recycle those pesky plastic bottles.