Natural Mineral Water
One of the defining characteristics of natural mineral waters is their original purity. These waters originate from protected underground water sources and must be safe to drink at source, in its natural state, without disinfection or chemical treatment. Natural mineral water can only come from specific designated groundwater sources, such as natural exits or boreholes.
Each natural mineral water produced in an EU Member State must receive official recognition from that State’s competent national authorities. This named source must then be registered in the Official Journal of the European Union.
No two types of bottled waters are the same. Each natural mineral water has a very distinctive taste. The taste depends on the waters’ specific mineral composition which is related to the geological make-up and the natural environment from where the water is abstracted.
Specific mineral composition
Natural mineral water has a distinctive mineral composition, which always remains stable. The composition depends on the geographic location from where the water is drawn and is specific to each brand (ranging from a very low mineral content <50 mg/l, to very high >1500 mg/l).
Characteristic constituents, represented by the main minerals (such as calcium, magnesium,chloride, sodium, sulphate), give natural mineral water its natural balance and taste. These constituents must remain unaltered from the point of origin at source right to the final consumer, and must be stated on the label. The label must also state the place of origin and the name of the source, as is the case on the Buda label (above).
Bottled at source
Natural mineral water must be bottled directly at source. This is done via direct, state-of the-art pipeline connections from the source to the bottling plant. In Europe, the transport of natural mineral water in tanker trucks is forbidden. Bottles are designed to protect the water quality and are fitted with a tamper-proof seal.
They must meet the highest quality standards and are strictly regulated by EU and national legislation to ensure that natural mineral waters are of proven natural origin, meet the highest quality standards and are protected from any pollution.
Some natural mineral waters may claim to provide certain health benefits, depending on their composition.
Still or Sparkling
Natural mineral water can be either still or sparkling. Sparkling water, also known as carbonated water, contains carbon dioxide. This gas may be naturally occurring or may be added.
Spring water, like natural mineral water, comes from a named and recognised underground source. It must be microbiologically safe and wholesome to drink and where it must be bottled directly at source without disinfection or any chemical treatment.
The main differences between spring water and natural mineral water are that a stable mineral balance is not a requirement for spring waters (though this is often the case) and mineral composition need not be stated on the label (though many producers nevertheless choose to do so). Also, for chemical parameters, spring water must only meet conventional drinking water standards (as for tap water).
There is no formal recognition process for spring waters (as there is for natural mineral water) but quality monitoring and protection of the source must be maintained.
Bottled Drinking Water
Bottled drinking water, also known as table water, may originate from various sources, including groundwater, surface water and municipal supply.
Bottled drinking water must comply with national and EU drinking water regulations, which are different to the rules governing natural mineral water and spring waters. Bottled drinking water, also known as “table water”, is commonly treated and disinfected for taste. Purification by chemical and physical treatment, such as chlorination and reverse osmosis, is common practice.
Carbon dioxide may be added to create a sparkling water. Minerals may be restored to this water.