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A new scandal affects the bottled water sector. After the release of the study on the presence of plastic particles in mineral waters, revelations now concern the contamination of waters which would have been concealed by manufacturers. Carried out by journalists from Le Monde and the investigation unit of Radio France, this investigation demonstrates that several mineral water producers hid from the general public that the sources used to fill the bottles were contaminated and did not comply with regulations.

Nestlé and other mineral water producers such as the Alma group are said to have falsified test results by using banned purification systems to continue bottling the water. According to the survey, nearly 30% of brands are affected, particularly those of the Swiss group.

Since 2020, the date of the opening of an investigation by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), several brands of mineral water have reportedly undergone treatments that do not comply with regulations following contamination of water sources. Vittel, Saint-Yorre, Contrex, Hépar, Vichy Célestins, Perrier or even Cristaline, “the favorite water of the French”, many waters are affected by illegal treatments: addition of iron sulfate and CO2 to replace a lack of bubbles… Some mineral or spring waters have even been mixed with the water found in our taps to pass regulatory tests!

Indeed, according to the investigation, the aquifer sources used by Nestlé or the Alma group are regularly contaminated. We find there in particular bacteria of the Escherichia coli type. According to Nestlé Waters “the evolution of climatic and environmental conditions, with the multiplication of extreme events, such as droughts or floods, combined with the expansion of human activities around our sites, makes it very difficult maintaining the stability of the essential characteristics of natural mineral water” asserts the group to the investigative media.

Problem: the authorities have been aware of this deception since 2021…

Contrary to popular belief, bottled water is far from being perfectly pure. Indeed, numerous studies warn of the accumulation of scandals around bottled water: depletion of groundwater, presence of heavy metals and microplastics or even the development of pathogenic bacteria…

Conversely, tap water “is generally of good quality and drinkable in most high-income countries” according to a United Nations report published in 2023 because it is “highly regulated and frequently tested”.


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