Sprudel is the favorite drink of the Germans. Stiftung Warentest has examined the water from various manufacturers in more detail.
As temperatures rise, so does thirst: “As temperatures rise, so does the demand for mineral water,” explains Markus Humpert, CEO of Franken Brunnen. Depending on the weather, most mineral water is sold from May to September. In the last two Corona years, less mineral water was sold than in previous years due to partially closed restaurants. With 12.4 billion liters produced, natural mineral water is still by far the favorite drink of Germans, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office.
For the current issue of its magazine, Stiftung Warentest has Test 32 highly carbonated mineral waters tested. Many of the mineral waters tested did well, with eight even earning a “very good” rating from Stiftung Warentest, including six low-cost private labels. However, trace substances from the environment are increasingly questioning the purity of mineral water: Stiftung Warentest found sweeteners or degradation products of pesticides and detergents in nine of the 32 products tested. “Possible causes of contamination could be a well in need of rehabilitation or an overused source,” says Sara Waldau, an expert at Stiftung Warentest. The amounts of trace substances in the test were not harmful to health, but the “natural mineral water” designation is questionable for the products.
One of the most expensive mineral waters performed worse in the test.
The worst-rated product was, among all, one of the most expensive in the test: water from the supplier Carolinen, which was advertised as being of organic quality. “It promotes organic quality, but it doesn’t deliver,” says Waldau. “It contained traces of substances from the environment.” The statement gave it a poor rating and overall the water was almost adequate.
But, what characterizes an organic mineral water? According to the organic mineral water quality association, mineral water certified with the organic seal comes from particularly pure sources that are strictly controlled. “There are even stricter regulations than for conventional mineral water, always based on the latest scientific research.” This means more safety for the consumer from nitrates, pesticides and other potential man-made hazards. In addition, the corresponding certified companies are actively involved in protecting water and the environment by promoting conversion to water- and climate-friendly organic farming in their region, managing their sources in an absolutely sustainable way, and packaging their beverages. in an environmentally friendly way.
Some brands also advertise their products as “carbon neutral.” “But that does not mean that the mineral water is emission-free,” emphasizes Waldau, an expert at Stiftung Warentest. In the best case scenario, suppliers would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, but not all emissions would be avoidable. The latter are then compensated by supporting certified climate protection projects.
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By the way, mineral water does not have to be particularly rich in minerals, although its name suggests it. If a mineral water contains more than 1,500 milligrams of dissolved minerals per liter, the mineral content is considered high. The analysis extract on the label gives an overview of the mineral composition. And a specific look at the individual minerals can definitely be worthwhile: For anyone who avoids dairy products, for example due to intolerance, it is important to pay attention to mineral water which is particularly rich in calcium. Because calcium strengthens the bones and is important for the excitability of nerves and cells.
Magnesium is also important because it is involved in building bones and also strengthens the excitability of the nerves. Sodium, in turn, regulates the water balance in the body and is important for the conduction of stimuli in nerve and muscle cells. However, infants and young children should only consume a small amount of sodium; therefore, mineral water used to prepare baby food must be particularly low in sodium. Most labels are labeled “Suitable for preparing baby food.”
Fizzing tap water yourself is sometimes a better option
Sometimes carbonated tap water with a bubbler can be a better option than bottled water from the supermarket. In terms of germs and critical substances, the treatment plants guarantee perfect water from the tap to the home connection: “The drinking water from the large drinking water distributors is of good to very good quality”, summarizes the latest report from the Ministry of Health and the Federal Environment Agency from spring 2021. All microbiological and chemical parameters were more than 99 percent compliant.
In case of isolated exceedances, the water supply plant must warn and initiate countermeasures such as temporary chlorination of drinking water. However, the taste and mineral content of tap water differs depending on where you live. However, in terms of sustainability, tap water is definitely better than mineral water: after all, it is simply drawn from the tap and not bottled, which in turn is transported to supermarkets by truck.
Currently, pouring bottlenecks are causing problems for mineral springs. It is currently not possible to increase production further because there are not enough bottles, says Markus Humpert, CEO of Franken Brunnen. Therefore, he asks customers to regularly bring in empty reusable bottles. This is important for smooth production. “Furthermore, the calls by politicians to buy a crisis mineral water supply are well-intentioned. But then we are short of boxes.”