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Natural mineral water: what is organic mineral water?

In addition to natural mineral water, some manufacturers also offer organic mineral water. But what's the difference? And is it worth buying organic mineral water?

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Natural mineral water is obtained from one or more natural or artificially developed sources. The water comes from underground water sources that must be protected from contamination. The product may only be called "natural mineral water" if it comes from an officially recognized source.

At the source, the mineral water is filled directly into bottles or other prepackaged items. It is already enriched with natural minerals, trace elements and other components.

Manufacturers are only allowed to change a little

The mineral and table water ordinance regulates the quality of the mineral water. Accordingly, the water must be "of original purity". Therefore, manufacturers are only allowed to use a few treatment methods.

For example, they are allowed to remove components such as fluoride, iron or sulfur compounds from the mineral water. You can also add or remove carbon dioxide. In addition, manufacturers must ensure that certain limit values ​​for undesirable substances are not exceeded.

Organic mineral water has to meet stricter criteria

Although natural mineral water has to be bottled almost unchanged, some companies sell organic mineral water. There is no state organic seal because water is not an agriculturally produced food and therefore does not fall under the EU organic regulation.

Companies can design a seal themselves and decide on their own award criteria. As a rule, they are stricter than the standards of the Mineral and Table Water Ordinance. The quality association organic mineral water, for example, awards an organic seal for natural mineral water.

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Manufacturers who would like to use the seal for their product undertake to practice active water protection, to comply with stricter limit values ​​for pollutants and to comply with sustainable and social standards when bottling. The water must also be free of certain drug residues and pesticide breakdown products.

In addition, there is the "premium mineral water in organic quality" from the SFS Institut Fresenius. In order for manufacturers to be able to use this seal, they must also ensure that a certain limit value for pesticide breakdown products and drug residues is not exceeded. However, the requirements for the seal are less strict.

Bio-Siegel for natural mineral water has met with criticism

The introduction of organic seals for natural mineral water met with a lot of criticism. The competition center filed a lawsuit against the first organic seal of the quality association organic mineral water. She accused the manufacturer of distorting competition.

All mineral waters are originally pure, should not contain any additives and should not exceed certain limit values. Therefore, there can be no organic mineral water for the competition headquarters.

In addition, the average consumer will associate organic mineral water with organic farming. This suggests that the water is characterized by a particularly ecological quality. But that is wrong.

The Federal Court of Justice ruled at the end of 2012 that the seal is not misleading. The organic mineral waters would stand out from others, as they would have a particularly low proportion of residues and pollutants. According to this, organic mineral water must fall well below the legal limit values ​​so that manufacturers can label it as such.

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A higher price is not always justified

In the trade, natural mineral water with an organic seal often costs more than the conventional one. This is reported by the consumer advice center Hamburg (VZHH). It is usually the most expensive water in the range.

Some companies even sell organic mineral water for a higher price, even though their cheaper mineral water comes from the same source. "We cannot understand why consumers have to pay more for a bottle with an organic label even though they cannot get any other water," says Armin Valet in a press release from the VZHH.

A test by Stiftung Warentest in June last year showed that many organic mineral waters are not necessarily better than natural mineral water. Of the six organic mineral waters tested, only one received the grade good. Two of them even failed with one unsatisfactory. Above all, they did poorly in terms of microbiological quality.

Bottles travel long distances

Even the packaging often does not justify the higher price. According to the VZHH, organic mineral waters are more often filled in returnable glass bottles. However, embossing, certain bottle shapes and supra-regional marketing ensure that the bottles have to travel long distances every time.

One of the organic mineral waters, for example, comes from France and is several hundred kilometers on the way to the end consumer. Glass bottles only make sense if they are sold regionally as reusable bottles and are often filled. Other organic mineral waters are only sold in disposable bottles.

Tip from the consumer center Hamburg

If you do not want to do without organic mineral water, the VZHH advises you to make sure that the product comes from the region. It should also be filled in a returnable bottle - PET or glass.

Sources used:

  • Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection: "Ordinance on natural mineral water, spring water and table water (mineral and table water ordinance)"
  • Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture: "Natural mineral water - spring water - table water"
  • Öko-Test: "Organic water, table water, mineral water: what's the difference?"
  • Stiftung Warentest: "Mineral water in the test: test results for 78 waters"
  • Hamburg Consumer Center: "What is organic mineral water and should you buy it?"
  • Press release from the Hamburg consumer center
  • Competition headquarters: "Can mineral water be" organic "
  • Federal Court of Justice: "Judgment of the 1st civil senate of September 13, 2012 - I ZR 230/11 -"