Mineral water is after the German mineral and table water regulation and the Austrian mineral water and spring water regulation, a groundwater with special properties. Its ingredients may only fluctuate insignificantly. It must come from underground water sources and be of original purity . Mineral water is bottled directly at the point of extraction - source / well - and requires official approval.
Historical name without legal standardization is sour water , which, just like sour fountain, also denotes the mineral source of such mineral water. The German mineral water industry differentiates between “classic” mineral water (also called “classic” water) with a lot of carbon dioxide (approx. 7–8 g / l), “medium” and “still” water with reduced carbon dioxide (4–5.5 g / l) l) and non-carbonated mineral waters (less than 1 g / l).
The national regulations are based on the EC directive on the extraction of and trade in natural mineral water. In the event of ambiguities or differences, the European regulations always have priority. The composition of the natural mineral water, the temperature in the spring and its other essential characteristics must remain constant within the framework of natural fluctuations. Natural mineral water may only be treated to a limited extent according to Article 4 of the EC Directive. Inconsistent ingredients such as iron or sulfur compounds can be removed using physical processes (de-iced and desulphurised mineral water). Under certain conditions it is permitted to use ozone to remove various constituents from the rock. Natural mineral water may - using physical processes - be removed from or added to carbonic acid . Furthermore, undesired components such as manganese or arsenic may be removed or reduced using approved processes. Fluoride can also be removed by using activated aluminum oxide ( ).
Legal matters in Germany
Mineral and table water ordinance
The legal basis for mineral water is the German Mineral and Table Water Ordinance (Min / TafelWV) (last version of October 22, 2014). This prescribes stricter microbiological limit values than for drinking water, which are controlled by food monitoring. However, they only apply to the place of bottling, not to the further route to the consumer, while the requirements for drinking water apply to the place of withdrawal. Every spring must be officially recognized; there are currently 820 of these in Germany. Officially recognized mineral waters are published in the Federal Gazette by the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety with the name and location of the source . Medicinal water is not considered a food, but falls under the Medicines Act .
In contrast to other foods, mineral water is not taxed at just 7% sales tax, but, like all beverages, at 19%, since according to the list of items subject to the reduced tax rate, it does not fall into the category of staple food . This classification was made because tap water is a substitute for mineral water.
Sales designation for natural mineral water in the sense of the food labeling regulation are:
- natural mineral water
- natural carbonated mineral water
- natural mineral water mixed with its own carbonated spring
- natural mineral water with carbonic acid
- Sauerling or Sauerbrunnen
Mineral water with a natural carbon dioxide content of more than 250 mg / l may also be referred to as a sourling or sour well. The term sparkling water can replace this term if the mineral water essentially bubbles out of the spring under natural carbonic acid pressure. Often the designation "Sprudel" is also part of the source name.
Still mineral water is a natural mineral water that naturally contains little or no carbon dioxide or from which the carbon dioxide has been completely or partially removed. It is partially bottled in the green standard fountain bottle. Declaration and carbonic acid content of still waters are not specified by law.
Mineral and medicinal waters are classified into three main types:
- Chloride waters:
- Sodium chloride waters
- Calcium chloride waters
- Magnesium chloride waters
- Sulphate waters:
- Sodium Sulphate Waters
- Calcium sulphate waters
- Magnesium sulphate waters
- Iron sulphate waters
- Hydrogen carbonate waters:
- Sodium hydrogen carbonate waters
- Calcium hydrogen carbonate waters
- Magnesium hydrogen carbonate waters
A mineral water with a mineral content of at least 1,500 mg / l may carry the label “With a high mineral content”.
Sparkling water, sour water and other official individual names
The labeling of mineral water is regulated in the Mineral and Table Water Ordinance.
Carbonated mineral water is also known as sour sparkling water or seltzer water ( Selters for short ). Selters has not been allowed to be used generically in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1984, has only been a brand name and only lives on in colloquial terms. In Germany, only mineral water can legally be designated as sparkling water and only if it has been bottled with the addition of carbon dioxide or if it is a sour well, in which the water naturally has such a high carbonic acid content that it bubbles when the pressure is relieved. Sauerbrunnen or Sauerlinge are mineral waters that naturally contain more than 250 mg / l carbon dioxide and have not received any further treatment; an exception to this is the addition of carbon dioxide.
In addition to the sales name and other information according to the Food Labeling following information is required for mineral water according to :
- Name of the source and place of use of the source,
- an analysis extract of the most important ingredients,
- where applicable, evidence of carbon dioxide withdrawal, treatment with ozone-enriched air, suitability for children's nutrition or high fluoride content.
Legal matters in Austria
The legal basis for mineral water is the Austrian Ordinance on Natural Mineral Waters and Spring Waters (Mineral Water and Spring Water Ordinance ), Federal Law Gazette II No. 309/1999, amended by the Ordinance Federal Law Gazette II No. 500/2004.
Natural mineral water is therefore water that has its origin in an underground water source protected from any contamination and is obtained from one or more natural or artificially developed sources with approximately the same characteristics. It is of original purity and has a certain peculiarity, which can be traced back to its content of minerals, trace elements or other components, and may have certain nutritional and physiological effects. Its composition, temperature and other essential characteristics must remain constant within the framework of natural fluctuations; in particular, they must not be changed by any fluctuations in the bed. Natural mineral water may only be placed on the market if it is recognized by the Federal Ministry for Health and Women .
Spring water is water that has its origin in an underground water source and is obtained from one or more natural or artificially developed sources. It is of original purity. Spring water must also meet the requirements of the Ordinance on the Quality of Water for Human Consumption (Drinking Water Ordinance - TWV), Federal Law Gazette II No. 304/2001, as amended.
A study on the nutritional and physiological importance of drinking water in Germany came to the conclusion in 2009 that drinking and mineral water can contribute to a person's mineral requirements, but that the mineral requirements are mainly met by solid food. In a healthy person and with a normal diet, it makes no difference whether you meet your fluid needs with mineral water or tap water . In calcareous regions, the calcium content of drinking water is significantly higher than that of an average mineral water; Berlin drinking water contains up to 150 mg calcium per liter, some mineral waters only a tenth of that. If you have high blood pressure, you should drink low-sodium mineral water.
The range of variation in the mineral content within the groups is greater than that between the tap water and mineral water groups. Because the end consumer has no influence on the origin of the tap water, this decision depends on regional conditions, which must be made on the basis of the publication of the regional water supplier and the analysis excerpt on the water bottle. In general, a high calcium and magnesium content and a low sodium content are considered to be desirable.
The bioavailability of the ingredients from mineral water is similar to that of other foods: Calcium from mineral water has a similar absorbability to calcium from milk (approx. 37% to 49%). The absorption rate of magnesium is around 50%.
On the way to the end consumer, drinking water is only exposed to negative influences in isolated cases. B. through improper house installations (including old lead lines in houses or impermissible cross connections with rainwater systems). This is almost impossible with mineral water, provided it is transported and stored in glass bottles . However, these are available less and less. Unfortunately, still waters tend to multiply germs, especially if they are stored for too long, whereas carbonated waters do not.
For the aspect of the increasingly widespread PET bottles, see below on this page . In Germany, even in long pipeline systems for drinking water supply up to the point of use, there is hardly any risk of contaminants, for example bacteria , getting into the water, as the pipes are under high pressure, which effectively prevents the ingress of foreign bodies. Dangers of contamination arise in the house installation from lead and copper lines.
Mineral waters often have an increased content of the radionuclides radon -222, radium -226 and radium-228 and thus contribute to greater radiation exposure of the organism. A health hazard cannot generally be derived from this; radon in particular occurs primarily directly at the source. According to Rolf Michel, head of the Center for Radiation Protection and Radioecology at the University of Hanover, an infant who drinks 50 liters of the most polluted mineral water a year has an additional radiation exposure of 0.1 millisievert per year; this dose corresponds roughly to that of a long-haul flight.
The Federal Environment Agency , on the other hand, warns that the uranium content in some mineral waters is too high and states that a maximum of 10 μg uranium per liter is acceptable for adults. (μg = micrograms = 10 −6 grams = 0.000001 grams). Here the Federal Office only refers to the toxicological effect and not to possible radiation exposure, which is irrelevant below 60 μg uranium per liter. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment recommend a maximum content of 15 μg uranium per liter for adults and 2 μg uranium per liter for infants and young children. Since November 2011, drinking water has had to comply with a uranium limit value of 10 μg / l.
A study by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment of 1530 mineral water samples from German sources between the years 2000 and 2004 showed that one sample contained a uranium content of 71 μg per liter, which shortly afterwards was no longer sold. However, the uranium content of 97% of the samples was less than 15 μg uranium per liter and at that time was considered safe for adults. In 44% of the samples, the uranium content was below the detection limit of 0.2 μg per liter. In the meantime (July 2006) the Ministry of Food and Rural Areas of Baden-Württemberg has ensured that all mineral waters from Baden-Württemberg are bottled with less than 15 μg uranium per liter.
However, in reality it cannot be avoided that people ingest uranium through their diet. For example, seawater contains around 3.3 μg uranium per liter, German rivers and lakes around 1 μg to 3 μg per liter and groundwater in Germany can contain between 0.4 μg and 2.4 μg per liter. As a most meaningful comparison, German drinking water with an average of 0.3 μg uranium per liter can be compared to German mineral water with an average of 2.8 μg per liter. The connection between the increased uranium content in mineral and drinking water and the geology of the groundwater storage rocks was examined nationwide for the first time in 2009. It turned out that increased uranium contents are mainly linked to formations such as red sandstone or Keuper , which themselves have geogenically increased uranium contents.
Pollution with anthropogenic substances
New studies by the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office Münsterland-Emscher-Lippe in collaboration with the University of Münster show that microplastics from packaging material get into mineral water and thus directly into the human food chain. Most of the particles found in the returnable PET bottles were identified as polyethylene terephthalate (PET, 84%) and polypropylene (PP; 7%). The returnable bottles are made of PET and the lids are made of PP. Only a few PET particles were found in the water in the non-returnable PET bottles . Other polymers such as polyethylene and polyolefins were found in the water in the beverage cartons and glass bottles . This is explained by the fact that beverage cartons are coated with polyethylene films and closures are treated with lubricants. Therefore, these results suggest that the packaging itself can release microparticles.
Plant protection products and their decomposition products in particular can pollute mineral water. Nevertheless, there are no binding limit values for pesticides and their metabolites in the German Mineral and Table Water Ordinance ; only the general administrative regulation on the approval and use of natural mineral water (AVV) contains orientation values: According to this, mineral water should not contain more than 0.05 µg / l pesticides. The magazine Ökotest tested 105 mineral waters in July 2011: pesticide metabolites were found in 30% of the waters, in 17 products even in quantities of over 0.05 µg / l.
In the event of such human-made contamination in the mineral water, the state food control decides on the continued existence of the official recognition as natural mineral water. So far, no mechanisms have been approved for mineral water with which pesticide metabolites can be removed from the water.
Artificial sweeteners in mineral water are also indications of the influence of human activity on the groundwater layers, caused by wastewater. Artificial sweeteners are used as sugar substitutes in foods, ingested with food and largely excreted unchanged and not broken down in sewage treatment plants (especially acesulfame ). In 2010, the Baden-Wuerttemberg food control system found evidence of sweeteners ( cyclamate and acesulfame) in 214 domestic and foreign mineral waters examined in 27 samples (12.2% ). There are currently no binding limit values for artificial sweeteners in mineral water.
While it is permitted to intervene in the product within the framework of approved procedures for drinking water treatment , mineral water may only be changed to a limited extent in its original composition. Only iron, manganese, sulfur and arsenic compounds as well as fluoride and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) may be removed. The only permitted additive is CO 2 , which forms carbonic acid (H 2 CO 3 ) with the water . Both treatments should be indicated on the label. The iron removal is carried out in many mineral waters, otherwise the water will turn brown over time. This can also be achieved with ozone, but this has to be declared. Most mineral waters do not have nearly as high a carbonic acid content at the point of discharge as after the bottle was filled. The carbonic acid serves, among other things, the shelf life, as it ensures a stable antimicrobial environment through the acidification. It also stimulates stomach activity. The best-before date for very low-carbon water is often shorter than that of sparkling or medium water.
Like other foodstuffs, mineral water pollutes the environment through packaging and transport. The specific environmental pollution of mineral water was examined in a study paid for by the Association of Swiss Water Suppliers (SVGW) and compared with the life cycle assessment of drinking water from the tap. Chilled sparkling mineral water in the one-way bottle has an environmental impact that is 3.5 times as high (expressed in environmental impact points 97 according to the ecological scarcity method ) than cooled sparkling drinking water from the tap. Packaging and transport are essential aspects. Reusable packaging is only more environmentally friendly if it does not have to be transported over long distances. In addition to the distance, the means of transport (truck, train, ship) are also important for an assessment. Switzerland has been importing more and more mineral water in recent years. The oil consumption per liter of mineral water increases from 1.5 to 3.1 deciliters. Almost every second bottle was imported in 2018.
Mineral water in PET bottles
Mineral water offers the advantage of constant water quality. However, in exceptional cases, contamination can occur during filling, transport or storage.
When using PET bottles , acetaldehyde is often introduced , which is produced during the manufacture of the bottles. The EU limit value for acetaldehyde is 6000 micrograms per kilogram for food and is usually nowhere near reached. The mineral water manufacturers set themselves a limit value of 10 µg / l, which is however in some cases significantly exceeded. According to a study by Stiftung Warentest from 2008, private labels from various discounters in particular are exposed to higher levels on average (up to 30.5 µg / l). The limit value of 10 µg / l is set as the taste threshold from which the acetaldehyde becomes noticeable with a fruity-aromatic taste, which can be regarded as a taste adulteration. The acetaldehyde can be neutralized with suitable blockers during bottle production, but these are less used in disposable PET bottles in contrast to reusable plastic bottles for economic reasons.
The following tables show the countries with the world's highest annual consumption of bottled water in 2007. This includes not only mineral water, but also table water , medicinal water and soda water as well as the 20 largest companies on the mineral water market in Germany in 2010 according to their sales .
It is also interesting to note that the number of mineral water brands in the United States of America rose sharply from 1970 (16 brands) through 1998 (50 brands) to 2012 (195 brands).
Highest total consumption (2004)
These countries consumed most of the bottled water in 2004.
|3||People's Republic of China||11,886.6|
Per capita consumption in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Per capita consumption of mineral and medicinal water in liters according to the Association of German Mineral Wells , the Austrian Association of the Food and Beverage Industry and the Association of Swiss Mineral Springs and Soft Drink Producers.
|1985||k. A.||47.0||k. A.|
The largest companies in the mineral water market in Germany
|Companies||Sales in million euros
( italics = estimated)
|Central German soft drinks (MEG)||383.0|
|Altmühltaler, Baruther, Breuna (Schäff)||268.0|
|Nestlé Waters Germany||195.8|
|Danone Waters Germany||180.0|
|Hövelmann Group (Rheinfels source)||147.6|
|Mineral springs Wüllner (Carolinen)||126.0|
|Überkingen-Teinach mineral fountain||125.0|
|Coca-Cola ( Apollinaris )||102.0|
|Bad Harzburg mineral fountain||59.0|
The market shares in the Austrian mineral water market
There are no comparable sales figures in Austria. These values therefore only indicate the quantities filled. They are based on a study from 2008.
millions of liters
|Market share **|
* No values are available for 2006 for Waldquelle.
** Various imported mineral waters achieve a 12.3% market share
Bottling quantities of mineral water in Austria
(in millions of liters)
In 1845, in the course of the establishment of Bad Gleichenberg as a health resort , a well from Roman times was dug when the Kurmittelhaus was further expanded . In the well shaft, 70 Roman coins from 14 to 284 AD and 12 hazelnuts petrified by the mineral water were found.
Due to a poisoning illness that he contracted during experiments with hydrogen cyanide, the German doctor Friedrich Adolph Struve dealt with the production of artificial mineral water. After several stays in Karlsbad and Marienbad , Struve opened the first drinking spa in Dresden's Seevorstadt in 1821 .
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