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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 12, 2021 09:17 AM
From: Representative Gary Day
To: All House members
Subject: Bottled Water Inspection
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to consolidate and strengthen inspection and regulatory oversight of the bottled water industry. Currently, the size of the water bottle dictates which Pennsylvania agency – Department of Agriculture (PDA), Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), or potentially both – claims oversight authority.
Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (Act), signed by President Barack Obama in 2011, the most comprehensive food safety reforms in more than 70 years empowered the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to focus on preventing rather than responding to food supply contamination. Under federal law, bottled water is a food product, and as such, bottling facilities are obligated to follow FDA regulations and meet specific inspection requirements. In Pennsylvania, FDA partners with PDA to fulfill this mission.
However, many bottled water products are treated as public tap water systems in the Commonwealth. Due to outdated DEP guidelines and despite FDA requirements, inspection and regulatory oversight in Pennsylvania remains bifurcated between the two state agencies, causing confusion and delays for the bottled water industry. Currently, water bottles that are ½ gallon or larger are inspected by DEP and are considered public water systems. Bottles under ½ gallon are inspected by PDA, which recognizes them as food products, consistent with how they are characterized federally, thus allowing these facilities to meet their FDA inspection and regulatory requirements.
In order to modernize and provide for consistent food safety oversight, I plan to introduce two bills. These bills do not, however, alter DEP’s existing oversight of bottled water source water withdrawals or public tap water systems.

Document #1

Introduced as HB755

Description: Bill #1 amends the Agriculture Code to ensure that all water bottling oversight, no matter the bottle size, is appropriately placed under the Department of Agriculture.  This was HB 1972 last Session.

Document #2

Introduced as HB754

Description: Bill #2 amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to remove these food products from their inappropriate categorization as public drinking water systems.  This was HB 1971 last Session.