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EU Government It's funny.  Laugh. Medicine Science Idle

In the EU, Water Doesn't (Officially) Prevent Dehydration 815

Posted by timothy
from the you-need-prescription-only-dihydrogen-monoxide dept.
New Kohath writes with this news from The Guardian: "Bottled water producers applied to the EU for the right to claim that 'regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration'. The health claim was reviewed by a panel of 21 scientists on behalf of the European Food Standards Authority. The application was denied, and now producers of bottled water are forbidden by law from making the claim. They will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the EU edict."
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In the EU, Water Doesn't (Officially) Prevent Dehydration

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:13PM (#38112764)

    Ketchup is a vegetable (even though a tomato is technically a fruit).

    • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Insightful)

      by heptapod (243146) <heptapod@gmail.com> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:15PM (#38112778) Journal

      So's pizza. [nytimes.com]

      • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CmdrPony (2505686) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:24PM (#38112856)
        And it really came as a shock to me that some people actually put ketchup on top of pizza. No one in my country does so, but after moving to Asia I noticed how the restaurants started packing ketchup with ordered pizzas and saw that people actually put ketchup on them. Why? There's tomato sauce already, and it tastes much better on a pizza than ketchup does. And no, ketchup is equivalent to tomato sauce.
    • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dahamma (304068) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:24PM (#38112864)

      Fruit is a biological term, vegetable is a culinary term. Tomatoes can be both, why does everyone have such a hard time with this?

      (ketchup, on the other hand... is awesomeness but yes, Congress is completely bought and sold by all lobbies, including the processed food and frozen pizza lobbies)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shentino (1139071)

        Nix v. Hedden settled that case.

        In favor of the tax greedy government, asyou might expect.

        Tomatoes were ruled to be a vegetable.

        And oddly enough, vegetables had higher taxes than fruits.

        • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Informative)

          by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:28PM (#38113350)

          That had nothing to do with government greed. It was the right ruling. Should the government tax tomatoes as vegetables? Well, you might say that they are a fruit, and vegetables are things like cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, string beans, pea pods, corn, okra, right? Problem is, everything I just mentioned is also botanically a fruit (fruits that, for some strange reason, people don't embarrass themselves by pointing out that that they're botanical fruits like they do with tomatoes). Cucumbers and squash are pepos (which are actually a type of berry), corn (and wheat and rice) is a type of fruit called a caryopsis, peanuts and string beans are legumes, and eggplant and peppers are berries. Fruit has both a culinary AND scientific meaning. Culinary, it is a sweet part of the plant that is almost always a botanical fruit, but that does not imply that a botanical fruit is also a culinary fruit. Scientifically, milkweed pods, cotton pods, and those little helicopters that fall from maple trees are fruits. Chocolate covered cucumber sound good to you? What about tomato ice cream, or pea pod pie? No? That's because they're not fruits in the everyday speech. You're going to stop calling peanuts and almonds nuts (peanut is a legume and almond is a drupe) or stop calling potatoes root vegetables (they're tubers, which are stems), and no one is calling rice, peppers, or string beans fruits, so why this fixation on the fact that tomatoes are botanical fruits?

          Vegetable has no scientific meaning, so it is perfectly reasonable to consider something a botanical fruit and a culinary vegetable. Just by mentioning the term, we know that we're speaking in culinary or horticultural terms, not pure botanical terms. Something can be a root and a vegetable (like carrots) a stem and a vegetable (like potatoes), a leaf and a vegetable (lettuce), a flower and a vegetable (broccoli), and things can be a botanical fruit and a vegetable too. Culinary fruits don't need to be a botanical fruit either. The best example is the strawberry. The actual fruits are the the little seeds on the outside (called achenes), whereas the culinary part is just the large swollen receptacle, which is a modified stem. I think botanists consider the whole thing, both the achenes and the receptacle to be the fruit, so that is a pretty weak example, but that should at least make you think about what a fruit really is. Historically, rhubarb was considered a fruit at times. However, if I gave you a cashew apple [wikimedia.org] (yes, every cashew nut has a fruit to go along with it) or if I gave you the 'fruit' of a native cherry or [wikipedia.org]Japanese raisin tree [wikipedia.org], you might not be able to tell that they aren't actually fruits. The lleuque [wikipedia.org] 'fruit' doesn't even come from an angiosperm (only angiosperms have fruit)! If any of those were commercially cultivated, what would we call them? Vegetables? Should we regulate something that in terms of cultivation and use is more similar to a cherry like a radish just because of some botanical nitpick? I don't think so.

          So, if we were speaking strictly scientifically, we'd treat corn, chili peppers, and pea pods the same as apples, grapes, andbananas. But that'd be pretty darned stupid, right? That's why we don't do it. The government made the right call there. I imagine someone was just being a smartass to get out of some taxes.

          • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Hardhead_7 (987030) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:48PM (#38113488)
            cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, string beans, pea pods, corn, okra, right

            OK, overall I agree with your post. Culinarily, a fruit is sweet and a vegetable savory. That's the big difference, and it's fine for something to be botanically a fruit and culinary a veggie. I just have a few issues with your list of "fruits." First, corn is iffy. There are botanical definitions that exclude it from being a fruit, as the fruit wall is virtually nonexistent. And peanuts? You've got to be kidding me. Yeah, sure, it's a fruiting plant, but you can't seriously tell me you eat the shell. It's an edible seed.

            I mean, I get what you're saying, but the edible portion of those two plants are not botanically fruits.
            • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @01:35AM (#38114406) Homepage Journal

              Culinarily, a fruit is sweet and a vegetable savory. That's the big difference

              I think you need to add a qualifier to fruit "and grows above ground". Cause carrots, rutabaga and beets are all pretty sweet.
              Then there are fruits like avocado and plantains, which don't even follow that rule.

              My rule:
              If your mother forced you to eat it, it was a vegetable.

          • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:58PM (#38113954) Homepage Journal

            The government made the right call there. I imagine someone was just being a smartass to get out of some taxes.

            I think that's the wrong response. Better response should be, why should the two categories be taxed at different rates? Another good question would be, why tax basic foods such as fruits and vegetables? I don't see the point in defending the government's position when their bad tax policy is the root cause of the scuffle.

            • by guttentag (313541) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @02:19AM (#38114550) Journal

              I think that's the wrong response. Better response should be, why should the two categories be taxed at different rates? Another good question would be, why tax basic foods such as fruits and vegetables?

              You're obviously not from the U.S. We believe in a link between taxation and representation (See Boston Tea Party). Many people think this means that if you are taxed, you must be represented, but it works the other way too. Since the majority of people register to vote as "Fruits" (people with outlandish ideas and little respect for the status quo) or "Vegetables" (unexciting people who seem to have a level of brain activity on par with a cucumber) and each of those groups is already represented by its own political party, it only made sense to tax them. Of course, one group believes everyone should be taxed equally (flat tax) and the other group believes in taxing at different rates (tax the rich). This is a constant source of ongoing debate, but most people believe that both fruits and vegetables should be taxed. There is a third group, known as the "nuts," who believe no one should be taxed, but no one takes them or Ron Paul seriously -- they serve mostly as diversionary entertainment when we get tired of hearing the fruits and veggies bicker.

              Thus endeth the lesson on American politics.

      • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:06PM (#38113186) Homepage


        why does everyone have such a hard time with this?

        Because there's a significant population of Slashdot that thinks words are things with single, hard definitions that never change and must conform to what they learned in science class.

        For those of us that can see the box as a box, it's not that hard. For people stuck inside the box, they'll insist everyone else get inside their little box.

  • by stox (131684) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:14PM (#38112774) Homepage

    After all, it has Electrolytes!

  • Once Again... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jarich (733129) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:14PM (#38112776) Homepage Journal
    ... we find that a committee, presumably with a lawyer or two involved somewhere, trumps common sense... Or, more likely, a board stocked by the lobbyists from various soft drink companies. /sigh/
    • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CmdrPony (2505686) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:27PM (#38112880)
      I don't know, I'm sure bottled water companies just wanted to use it as a misleading selling point and marketing. All other kinds of drinks prevent dehydration too, and tap water does too. Compared to countries where you can't actually drink tap water, the bottled waters are seriously overpriced here and they try to sell them by stating how they have minerals, are more healthier and so on.. All kinds of misleading marketing tactics. This decision only prevented the companies for using yet another misleading phrase.
      • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:43PM (#38113018)

        yeh, here bottle water is about twice as expensive as the heavily taxed gasoline, and the tap water is generally from deep underground filtered through soil for something like 60 years so it is better in every measureable way. bottled water companies will do everything they can to sell the idea that drinking they stuff will make you healthy, sporty, rich, successfull ....

      • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by snowgirl (978879) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:18PM (#38113282) Journal

        I don't know, I'm sure bottled water companies just wanted to use it as a misleading selling point and marketing. All other kinds of drinks prevent dehydration too, and tap water does too. Compared to countries where you can't actually drink tap water, the bottled waters are seriously overpriced here and they try to sell them by stating how they have minerals, are more healthier and so on.. All kinds of misleading marketing tactics. This decision only prevented the companies for using yet another misleading phrase.

        It's a fair amount of this. A while ago I was looking into why all of the zinc remedies for colds were homeopathic, but at reasonable dilutions (1:10, and 1:100). I came up with information that in the US you cannot claim that something is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease unless it is a "drug" as controlled by the FDA. What does the FDA say is a drug? Well, either something listed in the US Pharmacopeia, or in the Homeoapathic Pharmacopeia. As a result, since zinc acetate, and zinc gluconate are only "herbal/mineral supplements" they cannot be listed in the USP, and thus cannot be advertised as diagnosing, treating, curing, or preventing any disease (even zinc deficiency). However, since the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia has recently listed the zinc treatments for the treatment and prevention of colds, if a manufacturer actually makes the substance in accordance with Homeopathic law, they can actually call it a drug, and advertise it as treating and preventing colds. (Why don't wall Homeopathic "drugs" make these claims? The FDA still requires the homeopathic "drugs" to have scientific evidence to support a claim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent a disease. Most don't, zinc compounds do.)

        So, as a result of reading all this stuff, I picked up my Iron supplements, which I take for iron deficient anemia, and sure enough on the label it says: "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." Yes, my iron supplements can't even advertise that they treat, cure, or prevent iron deficiency. The very substance required to cure the deficiency cannot be sold with the claim that it can CURE that deficiency. Why? Same as above, it is an herbal/mineral supplement, and as such is not a "drug" and so it cannot be advertised to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

        As water is a food, and not a drug, the US system would come up with the exact same ruling.

        • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

          by eh2o (471262) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @01:53AM (#38114492)

          The FDA has limited resources, they can't evaluate every substance and claim. One of their criteria is possible danger to the public, for example all invasive devices and drugs must be reviewed. The greater the potential danger, the more extensive the review process.

          Homeopathics were "grandfathered in" to the FDA system which gives them their (limited) claim rights.They don't have to prove anything. Since homeopathics pose no danger to the public (as well as arguably no benefit), the fact that the claims are basically false advertising isn't an important enough consequence to the state of public health that the FDA will get involved.

          In the case of the claim about water, its actually false and potentially dangerous from a medical point of view. Drinking water can only prevent the onset of some types of dehydration, since its not electrolyte balanced. For example if your kid is vomiting a lot from the flu, which is definitely a case where they are at risk of developing dehydration, they should be administered something like Pedialyte (under medical supervision).

      • Re:Once Again... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by fluffy99 (870997) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:19PM (#38113292)

        I think the EFSA should have smacked them a little harder, and required that the bottles carry a warning that excessive consumption of this product can lead to a fatal condition called hyponatremia.

        For most consumers of bottled water though, they just see their wallet shrink unnecessarily. Most bottle water is straight from the city water supply with a little salts added to for taste. It also happens that the salts tend to increase your thirst and appetite rather than quench it.

        • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

          by pjt33 (739471) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @02:44AM (#38114632)

          For most consumers of bottled water though, they just see their wallet shrink unnecessarily.

          That's true in the UK, but I'm not sure how true it is for the rest of the EU. I do know that I've stayed in parts of Brittany where the tap water was bad for you (too much nitrate fertiliser runoff); I know that here in Spain tap water contains so much chlorine that it affects the taste; and I know that at 10 cents per litre I spend scarcely any money on bottled water.

      • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:20PM (#38113298)

        The whole article was just seething with affected indignation, the kind of blood-shot anti-Europe sentiment that got such a rightful whacking on QI. The only bit of sanity is at the very end of the article, added almost as an afterthought:

        Prof Brian Ratcliffe, spokesman for the Nutrition Society, said dehydration was usually caused by a clinical condition and that one could remain adequately hydrated without drinking water.
        He said: “The EU is saying that this does not reduce the risk of dehydration and that is correct.
        “This claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.”

        So, everyone calm down. The bottled water companies wanted to put a dubious medical claim on their bottles, and when they got caught because contrary to their expectations it was investigated by actual scientists, they decided to run to the press for sympathy, knowing that Britain's yellow journalism doesn't let facts get in the way of writing a sensationalist story.

      • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by eh2o (471262) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @01:38AM (#38114420)

        It seems that they actually convened a panel of scientists and determined that the statement was false.

        Dehydration (the clinical, medical term), has multiple forms (e.g. hypertonic, hypotonic, isotonic). Dehydration is caused by factors such as burns, vomiting, diarrhea, methamphetamine use, diseases such as cholera, yellow fever, diabetes. Some of those conditions are rather serious--if a doctor thinks a patient is at risk of developing dehydration due to a medical complication, they don't simply give them water to drink, they administer the proper balance of water to electrolytes depending on the condition.

        If the bottled water manufacturers had requested a more accurate statement, it would have been so full of technical jargon that they wouldn't be useful as a marketing tag line.

        For example Pedialyte is basically just bottled water plus electrolytes, and it is advertised as follows "Use Pedialyte oral electrolyte solution under medical supervision for the dietary management of dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting."

    • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:07PM (#38113194) Homepage
      Wow, who needs lobbyists when just average everyday citizens will shill for bottled water companies, whose sole contribution to civilization is a massive amount of pollution?
    • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

      by tragedy (27079) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:30PM (#38113368)

      Bear in mind that we're certainly looking at a translation of what the actual advertising claim was, and possibly a biased one. There's this [youtube.com] Nestle PureLife water commercial to consider. In it, a bunch of girls on a soccer team run up to their coach and are handed sports drinks and the coach tells them to "drink up [they're] losing a lot of water out there", and one of the girls asks why, if they're losing water, they don't just drink water. The coach has a dumbfounded expression for a moment, then takes the sports drinks back, and hands out Nestle PureLife water instead. The voiceover then says that nothing hydrates like water.

      The medically correct answer to the little girls question is that, when exercizing, you lose salts and carbohydrates as well as water. Proper rehydration replaces those as well. Given that the commercial is presenting what amounts to (potentially fatal in extreme conditions) medical advice, it amounts to false advertising. In the United States, it's clear that the government just doesn't care about false advertising any more, but in the EU, they actually take consumers being lied to by corporations in the name of profit seriously.

    • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

      by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:46PM (#38113886)

      Thankfully, common sense, just like old wives tales, are not allowed as a basis for making medical claims. In order to make a medical claim, you have to get approval, after having performed 3 phases of trials. A process which will typically take around 10 years. And the trials involve testing against a control. I'd suggest that the most reasonable control against which to test bottled water is water. And I'd further suggest that the bottled water companies would be wasting their time doing that, because it's going to show that their product is no better at reducing the chances of dehydration.

      There's no problem at all with bottled water companies claiming their product quenches thirst - that's not a medical claim. And everybody would understand exactly what they mean by that. But they are quite rightly prevented from trying to bamboozle people with disingenuous medical claims.

    • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

      by D'Sphitz (699604) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:54AM (#38114214) Journal
      In case anyone cares to dig beneath the thick exterior of FUD, manufactured outrage, and just plain lies [guardian.co.uk] coating this ridiculous story:

      (If you look at the date on the document I just linked to, you'll notice that this was all published in February, which makes it remarkable that so many journalists happened to leap on this story at the same time, completely independently of each other, without anyone copying what anyone else did or churnalizing each other in any way whatsoever).

      So what about the actual claim? Well you can read the EU's ruling here (PDF) [europa.eu], and the first thing to note is that this isn't really a rule so much as a piece of advice, which member states are free to interpret as they wish.

      ...The specific health claim tested is outlined in the ruling:

      The regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance.

      The claim wasn't submitted for a genuine product, but was created as a deliberate 'test' exercise by the two professors, who were apparently already unhappy with the European Food Standards Authority. The panel were well aware of it's absurdity too, noting drily that "the proposed risk factors," the conditions addressed by the hypothetical product, in this case water loss, "are measures or water depletion and thus are measures of the disease (dehydration)."

      Leaving that aside, there are two major problems with the claim: drinking water doesn't prevent dehydration, and drinking-water doesn't prevent dehydration.

      Firstly, "regular consumption" of water doesn't reduce the risk of dehydration any more than eating a pork pie a day reduces the risk of starvation. If I drink half a pint of bottled water while running through a desert in the blistering sun, I'll still end up dehydrated, and if I drink several bottles today, that won't prevent me from dehydrating tomorrow. The key is to drink enough water when you need it, and you're not going to get that from any bottled water product unless it's mounted on a drip.

      Secondly, dehydration doesn't just mean a lack of water, or 'being thirsty'; electrolytes like sodium are important too. If salt levels fall too far, the body struggles to regulate fluid levels in the first place. That's why hospitals use saline drips to prevent dehydration in patients who can't take fluids orally, and why people with diarhhoea are treated with salt-containing oral rehydration fluids. Presumably the next big investigation at the Express will expose the shocking waste of NHS money on needless quantities of saline solution, when jolly old tap water would work just as well.

      So the ruling seems pretty sensible to me, or at least as sensible as a ruling can be when the claim being tested is vexatious in the first place. It's accurate advice, and it prevents companies selling bottled water from making exaggerated claims for their products, which is a good thing. They even have the support of the British Soft Drinks Association, who tweeted just as this piece was going live with the following statement:

      The European Food Safety Authority has been asked to rule on several ways of wording the statement that drinking water is good for hydration and therefore good for health. It rejected some wordings on technicalities, but it has supported claims that drinking water is good for normal physical and cognitive functions and normal thermoregulation.

      It's also an great opportunity to challenge received wisdom, and to make the point that keeping the human body hydrated is about much more than just drinking tap water when you're thirsty. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of journalists are more interested in promoting second-hand hysteria than informing their readers. Which is a bit sad.

    • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @01:33AM (#38114396)

      Being that a committee of scientists and health experts found that the claim was false, instead blindly thinking they were wrong and my common sense was right, I looked deeper into the article and tried to find exactly why these people thought there was an issue with the claim.

      The problem with the claim, it turns out, is that dehydration is a symptom, not a disease. In a lot of cases it's caused by simply too little of a water intake, but not all. There are several diseases and conditions that cause dehydration and drinking more water will not help in the slightest. The claim is identical to claiming that taking ibuprofen regularly can help reduce the risk of a headache (which is clearly not the case).

      Perhaps when a committee of scientific experts make a formal statement about something that you disagree with, perhaps you should consider the following. Is it more likely that you are right or a group of educated individuals that study the field? I find it incredibly arrogant and egregiously wrong to think that it is more likely that you are correct. Next time question your "common sense" when it is challenged by experts, especially when it is something you don't know much about.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:15PM (#38112784)

    ...before we jump to the "EU makes dumb decision" conclusion as usual. Sellers of bottled water wanted to use that phrase as a selling point for bottled water. The EU decided that you could get the same from other sources of fluids. It may surprise some US people, but in a lot of areas you can actually drink tap water here...

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:18PM (#38112818)

      The times I have been in Europe drinking tap water led to dehydration.

    • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:29PM (#38112896) Homepage

      >The EU decided that you could get the same from other sources of fluids.

      France was behind this.
      En France, we drink wine in place of water.

    • by shentino (1139071) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:32PM (#38112916)

      "your competition can do it just as well as you can" is a bullshit reason to deny a claim.

      • by canajin56 (660655) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:55PM (#38113112)
        But it does make it a bullshit medical claim. Unlike the USA which allows anything short of absolute lies on it's packaging. "Carbohydrates may help prevent starvation. CocaCola is an excellent source of carbohydrates". Sorry, but if there's nothing special about the product in that regard, it's misleading. If the intent was not to mislead, then they don't have a reason to put it there at all.
        • by snowgirl (978879) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:30PM (#38113360) Journal

          Carbohydrates may help prevent starvation.

          Actually, no, you cannot make that claim in the US either. It is a claim of ability to treat, cure, or prevent a disease (starvation), and only drugs that have been shown effective can advertise medical claim. Carbs are not a drug, therefore they cannot be marketed as preventing starvation. (It's a nice thought though, that the USA would allow such "deceptive" advertising.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TreeInMyCube (1789238)
      But ... but ... look in the dictionary. Dehydration is *defined* as a lack of water. Not a lack of carbonated beverage, not a lack of sports drinks, not a lack of beer, but a lack of water. The notion that drinking water cures hydration is correct by definition, regardless of the source of the water. For the EU panel to deny this violates linguistics, not physics or chemistry.
    • by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:39PM (#38112980)
      Bottled water is unregulated by the authorities in most EU states (subject only to irregular inspections), while tap water is monitored on day to day basis. The problem is that the bottled-water companies trying to render tap water inferior while tests show their overpriced bottled-water is often of worse quality then the tap water.
  • But why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kermyt (99494) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:16PM (#38112794) Homepage
    Do water vendors feel the need to state the obvious... like water cures thirst?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:17PM (#38112800)

    “This claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.”

    • by Zeroedout (2036220) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:27PM (#38112884)
      Man I wish I had mod points. How do people get paid to write articles like the telegraph headline. No one claimed water doesn't hydrate, just that bottled water doesn't do anything any other fluid can't....
      • by hydrofix (1253498) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:27PM (#38113348)

        Actually, according to the original decision [europa.eu], it is not not about bottled water, but (any) water in general.

        However, as far as I understand, this conclusion was not reached because water would not prevent dehydration, but because they don't think dehydration is a disease. Which kind of makes sense – dehydration could be a symptom of a disease, but it is not a disease in itself. And the applicant asked a panel that verifies claims about products reducing the risk of a disease to verify a claim about a medical condition that –the board concluded– was not disease, so the board rejected the claim (or actually concluded [direct quote]: "The Panel considers that the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim ...")

  • The Telegraph (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goaway (82658) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:19PM (#38112820) Homepage

    Look, people, this is The Telegraph. They are incredibly biased and unprofessional when it comes to the EU. They will happily lie about anything if it makes the EU look bad.

    Anything they say about the EU is pretty much guaranteed to be garbage. Please don't encourage this kind of dishonesty by giving them pageviews.

    • Re:The Telegraph (Score:4, Insightful)

      by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:36PM (#38112948)
      There is a common theme in these stories, the "crazy eurocrats do the darnedest things" trope that british newspapers like the Telegraph like to trot out from time to time. Most of those stories do not stand up to scrutiny, but they resonate well with public sentiment.
    • Re:The Telegraph (Score:5, Informative)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:24PM (#38113768)

      Doesn't matter though, they've already achieved their goal here. A bunch of people came by Slashdot, saw the headline, and now subconsciously think slightly worse of the EU. Truth doesn't matter even the slightest bit in our society. All that matters is how often and how broadly you can push your lies.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:37PM (#38112950)
    ... that bottled water causes lobbyists.
  • by wisebabo (638845) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:40PM (#38112996) Journal

    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/11/18/us/life-us-usa-lunch.html?scp=1&sq=House%20protects%20pizza&st=cse [nytimes.com]

    Ok, ok I know that we're talking about Republicans here but still it shows stupidity is rampant on both sides of the Atlantic!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:41PM (#38113002)

    Someone at the Guardian [guardian.co.uk] wrote about this. It was not submitted by bottled water manufacturers:

    The claim wasn't submitted for a genuine product, but was created as a deliberate 'test' exercise by the two professors, who were apparently already unhappy with the European Food Standards Authority.

    Now, the ruling from the EU says that the application failed to comply with Article 14 of Regulation 1924/2006, which states "It is necessary to ensure that the
      substances for which a claim is made have been shown to have a beneficial nutritional or physiological effect".

    I'm guessing that the point where this application tripped up is that they didn't suggest how much water or how often would be beneficial and apparently didn't provide any evidence for the claim, so they haven't actually shown it is beneficial as required by Article 14.

  • by pesho (843750) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:44PM (#38113462)
    In Eu water is for washing things. If you are thirsty, there is beer in the fridge.
  • asdf (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TxRv (1662461) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:54PM (#38113922)

    This is more "we corporations wanna advertise our product as having medicinal benefits!" than "the government does not encourage drinking water for hydration".

  • by Sqr(twg) (2126054) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @03:14AM (#38114730)

    Here's a better article [telegraph.co.uk] on the same subject from the same newspaper.

    The correct advice would be "Drink water when you are thirsty and when you are sweating[1]." There are no studies showing that drinking while neither thirsty nor sweating would reduce the risk of dehydration.

    The EU took a stand against the lobbyist's here. It is the exact opposite of what happened when the US declared pizza a vegetable.

    [1] In really dry and hot climate (like a desert) you might not notice that you are sweating, so drink anyways.

  • by golodh (893453) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @04:05AM (#38114924)
    consider this statement:

    Prof Brian Ratcliffe, spokesman for the Nutrition Society, said dehydration was usually caused by a clinical condition and that one could remain adequately hydrated without drinking water. He said: âoeThe EU is saying that this does not reduce the risk of dehydration and that is correct. âoeThis claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.â

    Of course drinking water (from the tap of from bottles) prevents you from getting dehydrated ... if you are an otherwise healthy person. No doubt about it.

    If, on the other hand you are suffering from a clinical condition that puts you at risk of dehydration, you shouldn't rely on bottled water as a form of self-medication, but you should consult your GP. Unfortunately, allowing manufacturers to put the claim reduces the risk of dehydration on bottles of water blurs the line between a normal person drinking water simply to keep from becoming dehydrated and someone with a medical condition refraining from seeing his GP and instead relying on bottled water.

    For that reason: why allow bottled-water manufacturers to make some half-witted medical claim with which to praise their wares? Bottled water has always sold well enough without ascribing quasi-medical claims to it.

  • by ivec (61549) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @05:16AM (#38115180) Homepage

    Through most of Europe, tap water is perfectly drinkable, and healthier that bottled water. So what this European committee ruled on is whether companies selling bottled water have the right to promote them by claiming that they have a therapeutic benefit. I think it's quite ok to reject this claim.

    In my office, we have this big fridge distributing bottled drinks, made available by a company linked to Coca-Cola. It comes with printed claims and brochures explaining what we need to drink at least 4 x 5 dl per day (the machine contains free bottles of 5 dl).
    I'm an MD, and while a liquid intake of 1.5 to 2 liters is generally needed, it is wise to get most of it from the tap, or from soups and vegetables. You can certainly live well without any "drinks" - and premature death is guaranteed to those who would drink four bottles of these sugary drinks every day.

  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @06:31AM (#38115400) Homepage
    You have to read this in context. The EU is banning the claim that water helps fight dehydration, on water bottles.

    Of course Water does fight dehydration, but so does Coka-Cola, Orange Juice as well as most drinks containing large quantities of Water.

    The EU is simply refusing generic statements on products that don't have any distinguishing meaning compared to other products in the same class.

    McDonalds might want to put "Two BigMacs will give you 70% of your daily calories need", which may be true, but it is highly misleading.

    The whole purpose of this EU law is that consumers can trust the statements made by manufacturers are both true and distinguishing for that product compared to others in the same class.

  • by Anarchduke (1551707) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:12PM (#38117178)
    interesting. It seems that the bottled water lobby wanted to declare dehydration a disease that was cured or prevented by their water. The EU decided they were full of shit and said no. Here is the text of the decision [europa.eu]

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