I’m looking for comment on whether regularly drinking bottled water with a pH as low as 4 could stress the system, etc….the story I’m writing goes into more detail on the how and why of low-pH waters and how they may or may not affect health.
My first reaction: you have to be kidding.
I think these waters are hilarious—products of brilliant marketing.
The basic facts:
Water is two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, neutral in acidity. The body has a terrific buffering system to keep the blood at exactly the right level of neutrality (pH 7.35-7.45).
Stomach contents are extremely acid: pH 1.5-3.5.
Gases in water quickly equilibrate with air.
At the Fancy Food Show, I picked up a plastic pouch of hydrogen-infused water
clinically proven [no references or data given] to help reduce inflammation and is a powerful source of antioxidants. It’s perfect for your workout, beauty, and overall daily routine.”
This product also claims to provide anti-inflammatory benefits, relieve fatigue and jet lag, improve fitness performance, boost energy, and enhance circulation and cell function.
Here is another one of FoodNavigator-USA’s Special Editions, meaning collections of its articles on specific topics written mostly from the perspective of food beverage companies. This one is on trends in commercial beverages, and is highly relevant to food politics.
Few sections of the store are as dynamic as the beverage aisles. Meanwhile, the pressure to ‘clean up’ labels continues unabated. But how can we distinguish passing fads from sustainable trends? And who are the entrepreneurial companies driving innovation in this category?
Bone broth sales more than tripled in 2016, albeit off a very small base: The bone broth category (shelf-stable and refrigerated) is pretty small in the scheme of things, but it’s growing rapidly, with US retail sales more than tripling to $19.7m in the 52 weeks to Jan 22,* fueled by a small but highly engaged set of health conscious consumers, Paleo enthusiasts and Whole30 fans, says one fast-growing player… Read
Two California state senate bills would mandate controversial warnings on some foods and beverages, and if enacted could start a domino effect among other like-minded states, potentially creating a patchwork of laws and compliance headache for national brands… Read
Ag Committee weighs whether SNAP should pay for sugary drinks: Prohibiting the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages and other “unhealthy” foods and beverages with SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, likely would not discourage their consumption, but would be costly and difficult for retailers to implement, industry stakeholders argued on Capitol Hill last week. .. Read
Listen to what the First Lady is saying in these selected quotes, some of which deal with the current furor over school meals:
When the Drink Up campaign was launched last year, it had one simple goal – to get kids and families excited about drinking water.
As Drink Up encourages more people to drink more water, we also want to help make choosing water an easier choice…water for more people wherever they are, whenever they want it, however they want it – be it tap, filtered or bottled.
In a number of school districts, participation in the lunch program has actually risen. And there’s a simple reason for that: It’s because those districts actually put some effort into marketing the new meals to the kids. They didn’t just sit back and say, well, the kids like junk food so let’s just give them junk food.
Instead, they embraced higher standards and more nutritious options, and they worked hard to get the kids excited about them. They did taste tests. They came up with new recipes. They did everything they could to make healthy eating fun.
Today, we’re seeing the results, especially among younger kids…They’re getting used to healthier food, and they’re developing healthy habits early on that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. And that’s our job as adults… And no matter what, we don’t give up on our kids. And we don’t give up on their health and their futures.
We need to keep pushing to market healthy products to children and families. We need to keep working together within industries and across industries to help our kids lead healthier lives.
Even better, The California Endowment announced that it will increase community access to water in South Kern County and the Eastern Coachella Valley by installing hundreds of taps and dispensers to fill reusable water bottles in schools and public places.
Let’s have more tap-water initiatives, please.
The more people drink tap water, the greater will be public support for maintaining the quality of municipal water supplies.
Rumors are flying that Let’s Move! will announce significant accomplishments this week.
From what I can piece together from ProPolitico and press conference announcements, they go on all week.
Tuesday: School wellness policies
Wednesday: Food assistance programs other than SNAP
Thursday: The Nutrition Facts label
These promise to be more useful than Mrs. Obama’s visit to the New Museum in New York to celebrate a pop-up exhibit organized by WAT-AAH!, a company that makes bottled water—marketed specifically to kids.
The company is a supporter of Let’s Move!’s Drink Up! campaign.
Its bottled waters are “functional,” meaning ostensibly nutritionally enhanced in some way.
For example, its “Power” product says it is:
Ultra pure water!
Absolutely NO SUGAR!
Taste like pure clean water!
Sounds like plain, ordinary water to me (unless the amount of magnesium is substantial, which seems unlikely—I can’t find a Nutrition Facts label for it).
The idea here is to get kids who won’t drink water to drink bottled water aimed specifically at them—at $1.50 a pop.
This was great publicity for the company, but I sure wish Drink Up! would emphasize how terrific tap water is, especially in New York City, where it really is terrific.
Added comments: A reader points out that WAT-AAH!’s health claims are difficult to substantiate (e.g., boosted oxygen level, brain function), and are just the kinds of claims that concern the FTC.
And, despite Drink Up!’s public stance on how tap water is just fine, WAT-AAH! puts down tap water. To check both the claims and the put down, go to the website, click on WAT-AAH! Drinks!, then on Just the Facts, and scroll on down.
You will find plenty of highly iffy health claims, along with this:
OK, so this is about marketing so what’s the big deal? I can think of several reasons for concern:
It’s marketing bottled water.
It’s marketing directly to kids.
It’s marketed with absurd health claims.
It claims to be substantially better for kids than tap water.
It’s endorsed by the First Lady.
The FTC has gone after health claims just like these. Can it go after WAT-AAH!’s claims and, thereby, take on the First Lady?
This is what happens—all too often—when health programs try to partner with private industry. The private industry invariably wins, and the health partner loses credibility.
Staying hydrated is important to staying in balance, and bottled water provides people with a convenient and popular choice. By supporting this new initiative, our industry is once again leading with meaningful ways to achieve a balanced lifestyle.”
Hydrated? Not an issue for most people (exceptions—elite athletes, people at high altitude, the elderly).
Bottled water? In places with decent municipal water supplies, tap water is a much better choice; it’s inexpensive, non-polluting, and generates political support for preserving the quality of municipal water supplies. See, for example, what Food and Water Watch has to say about bottled water.
Another reporter: “Why aren’t we talking about obesity?”
Another reporter: Are we talking about replacing sugary drinks and sodas with water?”
Lawrence Soler, president and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America, fielded that one. “It’s less a public health campaign than a campaign to encourage drinking more water. To that end, we’re being completely positive. Only encouraging people to drink water; not being negative about other drinks. “
I consider Let’s Move! to be a public health campaign, and a very important one.
I know we’re just trying to “keep things positive,” but missing the opportunity to use this campaign’s massive platform to clearly talk down soda or do something otherwise more productive is lamentable. Public health campaigns of this magnitude don’t come around every day…Keeping things positive and making an important point are not mutually exclusive, you fools.
Let’s Move! staff have stated repeatedly that they must and will work with the food industry to make progress on childhood obesity. I’m guessing this is the best they can do. Messages to “drink less soda” (or even “drink tap water”) will not go over well with Coke, Pepsi, and the ABA; sales of sugary sodas are already declining in this country.
I’m thinking that the White House must have cut a deal with the soda industry along the lines of “we won’t say one word about soda if you will help us promote water, which you bottle under lots of brands.” A win-win.
Isn’t drinking water better than drinking soda? Of course it is.
But this campaign could have clarified the issues a bit better. Jeff Cronin, communications director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest circulated a poster created by Rudy Ruiz (of the communications firm Interlex) for a public health campaign in San Antonio:
Public health partnerships with food and beverage companies—especially soda companies—are fraught with peril. Let’s hope this one conveys the unstated message like the one in San Antonio: My balance is less soda and more tap water.
Food corporations are pushing corporate social responsibility (CSR) as hard as they can. This seems like an oxymoron to me, but here’s what they say:
CSR #1: Nestlé (no relation) says it is creating shared value by “optimizing water use and productivity, Italy.”
In the Piacenza and Parma region of Italy, in recent years, water has become scarcer, especially during the summer. Nestlé Italia decided to engage more closely with its tomato suppliers, to secure its supply of tomatoes and significantly reduce the amount of fresh water used for irrigation.
The three-year project with Consorzio Interregionale Ortofrutticoli, a cooperative of tomato farmers, aims to maximise tomato production and optimise irrigation in 10 pilot farms with differing soil conditions, by using solar-powered CropSense Soil Moisture Monitoring technology. Data at root level is collected daily and used to provide the exact amount of water needed to optimise crop revenue and water use.
Data collection will continue into 2011, and additional farmers are already keen to join the project based on the initial results: yields have nearly doubled, the tomato quality (sugar content) increased by 15% and the water used to produce one tonne of tomatoes fell by 45%.
Corporate responsibility is now accepted as a major part of doing business, even when the economic climate is less than ideal. FoodNavigator.com rounds up the main messages of some of the world’s biggest food and beverage companies… Read
Science is fundamental to the food industry, from supporting claims in the health and wellness sphere to tasting panels to evaluate a new product, but scientists can never forget the ethical implications of their experiments… Read
Developing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy offers huge scope for innovation and revenue-building – but there is no one-size-fits-all approach, according to a US supply chain management professor… Read
I greatly admire the work of Jared Diamond. His book,Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies, is as clear an explanation as you will ever get of how the inequitable distribution of favorable geography, climate, and natural resources affects the development and maintenance of human societies.
But here he is, incredibly, in the Sunday New York Times writing a fan letter to corporate social responsibility for protecting those favorable environments. He writes:
There is a widespread view, particularly among environmentalists and liberals, that big businesses are environmentally destructive, greedy, evil and driven by short-term profits. I know — because I used to share that view. But today I have more nuanced feelings…I’ve discovered that while some businesses are indeed as destructive as many suspect, others are among the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability.
And which corporations does he include as “strongest positive forces?” Chevron, Walmart, and Coca-Cola. I’ll leave discussion of Chevron and Walmart to others, but Coca-Cola?
Coca-Cola, Diamond says, is protecting the world’s water supplies. The company needs clean water in the 200 countries in which it operates. This, says Diamond:
compels it to be deeply concerned with problems of water scarcity, energy, climate change and agriculture. One company goal is to make its plants water-neutral, returning to the environment water in quantities equal to the amount used in beverages and their production. Another goal is to work on the conservation of seven of the world’s river basins, including the Rio Grande, Yangtze, Mekong and Danube — all of them sites of major environmental concerns besides supplying water for Coca-Cola. These long-term goals are in addition to Coca-Cola’s short-term cost-saving environmental practices, like recycling plastic bottles, replacing petroleum-based plastic in bottles with organic material, reducing energy consumption and increasing sales volume while decreasing water use.
Please note the future tense. These are things Coke says it plans to do. As for what the company is doing now, Diamond does not say. His piece does not mention Coke’s negotiating with officials in developing countries to buy water at rates significantly below those charged to local communities, a topic under much discussion when I was in India last year. It does not mention campaigns in India to hold Coke accountable for its abuse of local water rights or any of the similar campaigns in other countries.
Diamond’s piece does not talk about the efforts Coke puts into selling bottled water at the expense of local water supplies. As described by Elizabeth Royte in her book, Bottlemania, companies like Coke exhibit every one of of the characteristics formerly deplored by Diamond in attempting to secure plentiful and reliable sources of cheap local water: in his words, “environmentally destructive, greedy, evil and driven by short-term profits.”
Diamond says he sits along side and has gotten to know and appreciate the motives of many corporate executives. Me too. Personally, many of them mean well and wish that they could do more to be socially responsible. But they work for businesses that are required, by law, to make short-term profit their reason for existence. This means that corporate social responsibility is necessarily limited to actions that bring visible – and immediate – returns on investment.
We need some critical thinking here. If Diamond gave any thought at all to what Coca-Cola produces – bottled water and sodas – he would surely have to agree that less of both would be good for our own health and that of the planet.
I’m keynoting a meeting to celebrate publication of 8 articles about SNAP in a special section of the American Journal of Public Health. 9:30am – 11:00am, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, 55 West 125th Street, 7th Floor Auditorium. Participants: Mariana Chilton , Nevin Cohen, Nick Freudenberg, Brynne Keith-Jennings, Jennifer Pomeranz, Alfredo Morabia, Janet Poppendieck. Information is here.