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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 21, 2021 01:46 PM
From: Senator Elder A. Vogel, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Establishing Consistency in Regulatory Oversight of the Bottled Water Industry
I am 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 Due to outdated DEP guidelines and despite FDA requirements, inspection and regulatory oversight in Pennsylvania remains bifurcated between the two state agencies, causing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 would preserve DEP’s existing oversight of bottled water source water withdrawals and would not impact DEP's oversight of public tap water systems.

Document #1

Introduced as SB629

Description: The first bill of this two-part package will amend the act of May 1, 1984 (P. L. 206, No.43), known as the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act, further providing for definitions.

Document #2

Introduced as SB630

Description: The second bill of this two-part package is an Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in food protection, further providing for rules and regulations.