Does the water treated with my domestic appliance have the ability to prevent and cure certain diseases?
There are frequent cases in which, through various forms of communication, the consumption of water subjected to domestic treatments is associated with beneficial effects on health. The main purpose of these communications is to advertise certain devices.
In many circumstances domestic devices for treating water are also given invented names to suggest one or more properties of fighting certain diseases or promoting the well-being of those who consume them. Based on the data available to date, these are unfair commercial practices, based on statements not supported by scientific data and therefore in many cases sanctioned by the Competition and Market Authority (AGCM).
Indeed, in the case of domestic water treatment devices, any claim used for advertising or commercial purposes that the consumption of water treated with a particular technology or system may be beneficial to health, is a "health claim" and, as such, it must comply with strict rules established at European level.
Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 establishes harmonized rules for the use of nutrition or health claims in order to ensure that such claims are clear and supported by scientific evidence. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has the task of verifying the arguments provided by applicants to justify the indications (in use or proposed). It is then up to the European Commission and the Member States to decide whether to authorize them or not. The claim must be truthful and based on scientific data that applicants, especially if the claims concern health, are obliged to provide.
To date, from the available data, EFSA has issued positive opinions on the validity of only two health claims associated with water:
- a cause and effect relationship has been established between the daily water intake and the maintenance of normal physical and cognitive functions; the recognition considers that a loss of body water equal to about 1% is normally compensated within 24 hours and that the absence of such compensation and the further increase in body water loss compromise physical and cognitive functions
- water plays a particularly important role in thermoregulation. The increase in body temperature is a consequence of the reduction in sweating and blood flow in the skin induced by dehydration (EFSA, 2010)
These two indications can be used for natural mineral waters and for water intended for human consumption with the requisite of suitability for consumption and therefore cannot be associated with water subjected to particular technologies of domestic treatments. In addition, the indication must be accompanied by "information to the consumer that the indicated effect is obtained with a daily intake of at least 2.0 liters of water.
Reports of unfair commercial practices and misleading advertisements can be made by consumers, including online, to the Competition and Market Authority.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to water and maintenan ce of normal physical and cognitive function (ID 1102, 1209, 1294, 1331), maintenance of normal thermoregulation (ID 1208) and "basic requirement of all living things" (ID 1207) pursuant to Article 13 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal. 2011; 9: 2075