Skip to main content
December 17, 2018

Sip of deceit: Up to 70% of bottled water may be fake

Water bottles are placed on tables for guests during the diaspora conference at the KICC Dec 13 2011.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE
Water bottles are placed on tables for guests during the diaspora conference at the KICC Dec 13 2011.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

It is highly likely the drinking water you buy is not genuine and could expose you to health risks.

Up to 70 per cent of bottled water in the Kenyan market could be fake. A survey was conducted by the Star whereby the barcodes on 10 brands were scanned.

The result? Only three were genuine while the rest belonged to unrelated firms.

Most barcodes on the bottled water sampled belong to DHL, an international forwarding firm.

Another survey conducted by the Kenya Revenue Authority in April 2016 showed about 60 per cent of the water and juices in the market are illicit, a revelation that should worry the public, which falls prey to catchy brand names and tag lines on bottles that promise safest water.

These findings come days after the Kenya Bureau of Standards warned hotels and event organisers serving customers uncertified bottled water and two years after it cancelled the licences of 368 companies for failing to meet quality standards.

During the cancellation, Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae said some vendors were bottling tap water in filthy bottles that have bogus seals, counterfeiting the mineral and spring water processing companies.

Ongwae assured the public and genuine operators suffering huge losses due to unfair competition Kebs was working towards a local secured standardisation mark to end the problem.




Currently, consumers can only detect fake bottled water by scanning barcodes or sending brand names to 20023, information not known to the majority of consumers who unknowingly quench their thirst on substandard water now retailing at as low as Sh20 for 500ml.

Last week, the High Court declared the planned levying of excise duty on bottled water, juice, soda and other non-alcoholic beverages and cosmetics unconstitutional, dimming Kebs and KRA’s hopes of fighting fake products. The proposed law would have compelled manufactures and importers to affix the new generation excise stamps on bottled water, distinguishing legitimate and fake products.

Speaking to the Star on the phone yesterday, Jeremiah Kinywa, an excise officer at Kebs acknowledged the problem caused by unscrupulous dealers and said he will give more information on email. But he had not responded to our queries on what Kebs is doing to protect consumers by the time of going to press.

Kenya is among nine countries in the world where leading brands of bottled water are contaminated with tiny plastic particles, exposing consumers to cancer and autism.




Poll of the day