July 16, 2012

Horse 1341 - This Defies Description

Organic water. Organic water? Yes, Organic water.

I tried to think of a less apt description for something and short of calling the entire of the Second World War "a bit of a tiff", or perhaps as "inadequate", I failed to do so.

Marketing people in their rush to get us to buy their particular product amongst the godzillions of competitors out there, will resort to all sorts of uses of enticing language, appeals to empathy, authority, vanity even, in an attempt to make you part with your hard won dollarpounds.

So why organic?

The word "Organic" should by definition mean a class of chemistry which originally meant relating to plants and animals but was extended to include all of carbon chemistry.
In that respect, I suppose technically the only thing "organic" about this bottle of water is the bottle which the water comes in because it is made from Polyethylene Terephthalate - that's C10H8O4 for those interested.

Forgive me if I'm wrong but having organic material in drinking water is not only undesirable but in some cases lethal.
After the so-called Great Stink of 1858, the British Parliament was finally convinced by people like Joseph Bazalgette who undertook the gargantuan task of building the London sewerage system at the then astronomical price of £5 million (or £9.1 billion in 2012 terms) and the physician John Snow who had traced the source of the 1854 cholera outbreak, people began to think seriously that having any organic material at all in drinking water was a bad thing.

I did some very low tech research after I'd seen this and worked out that most people think that the word "organic" means that the water is natural and or chemical free. There are of course a few problems with this too.

Just because something is "natural" is in no way any indication that it's safe for human consumption. Things like Arsenic and Osmium are also natural but if you were to actually drink either of those, in the words of Smithson Tennant who isolated the element Osmium you would find yourself "extremely dead".
How can water not be "natural"? By natural I assume that we mean something which comes from nature. Owing to the vagrancies of the Water Cycle, water has this habit of going around and around, so it is very much possible that the water contained in the bottle may have been drunk several hundreds of times over by all sorts of organisms.

The other problem with this particular bottle of water being "chemical free" that that the bottle openly states which chemicals are in it. It says that the water has been purified to 1 micron and sterilised with ozone. It also says that a typical analysis is that it contains 28mg/L of Chlorides, 13mg/L of Sodium, 5mg/L of Magnesium, 13mg/L of Calcium and 2mg/L of Potassium.
Never mind the fact that water itself is a chemical itself which according to the rules of chemical nomenclature could be called Dihydrogen Monoxide. Also, Dihydrogen Monoxide has been found to cause rust and corrosion in various metals, if heated above 65°C produces a full thickness burn in less than a second of exposure and if inhaled in sufficient quantities will cause asphyxia due to suffocation.

I would have contacted Active Organic Beverages Pty Ltd to ask them about their product but the phone number didn't give me any response and there is not website or email address I could find.
After doing a search for their company name, the only reliable instance I found was an article from the Sydney Morning Herald from April 2011 in which another bottled water company is supposed to be in breach on an Australian Standard by the ACCC:

"Everybody knows water is an inorganic compound, so you can't certify water as organic. The next best thing, we believe, is bottling water at the source; our farm is organic, so we think that our brand name is not misleading in that regard. We believe that, of all products in the marketplace, if any of them should have the word organic, ours is one," Mr Stack said
- Sydney Morning Herald, Elise Dalley, Apr 21 2011.

I think that calling any bottled water "organic" is misplaced on several fronts but I suppose that no-one is going to do anything about it. I personally thought that this was just dumb on the part of the marketers but I hadn't realised the legal implications.
Maybe I should start touting this blog as "organic" because it was made by natural processes (my brain). The light which comes out of the device you happen to be reading this on is probably almost certainly "chemical free" or if you printed this on paper, that is also "organic" by virtue of the fact that paper is made from trees.
Or maybe people should just think for ten minutes before they put words on packaging.

1 comment:

demontales said...

Whew, I'm relieved that there are no pesticide in my water.