Australian consumers are being massively ripped off by trendy bottled water companies making dubious claims about the health benefits of their products.
Some water bottlers claim their products contain higher levels of mineral salts than tap water to justify the expensive prices, while others claim it boosts levels of oxygen and helps mental and physical endurance.
Consumer advocacy group Choice, which conducted an investigation into the claims says bottled water is no safer or healthier to drink than water from the tap.
Sydney Water public utility charges just $2 for 1,000 litres of filtered water as against about $3.50 for just 600ml of bottled water.
''Although industry research shows Australians believe bottled water is safer and tastier than tap water, beverage companies are only required to test their products once a year but tap water is tested regularly,'' Choice spokeswoman Kate Browne said.
According to Australian Artesian Water's claims its water contains healthy mineral salts that are rapidly absorbed into the body and assist with cleansing.
But in the testing it was found that tap water contained more minerals.
Zouki Breathe water, which retails at a Sydney hospital, claims it is infused with oxygen which provides health benefits like mental focus, endurance and recovery. But Choice found its oxygen content to be the same as tap water.
Meanwhile, this year saw the UK sales of bottled water exceed those of cola for the first time. In the year to July, UK consumers bought 1.77 billion litres of bottled water as against 1.72 billion litres of cola. With a sugar tax on fizzy drinks expected to be introduced next year, total sales of bottled water are expected to rocket to 4.7 billion by 2021.
According to commentators, the tap water in the UK is some of the best anywhere in the world, but desire for bottled water seems to be unquenchable. People sucking from their water bottles is a common sight at gyms, cinemas or shopping centres which makes a remarkable testament to the power of marketing, according to commentators.