back to article Brussels: Water cannot be sold as remedy for dehydration

Brussels prompted a flood of abuse this week by apparently banning bottled water vendors from promoting their products as a counter to dehydration. The European Food Standards Agency was asked to consider its "opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to water and reduced risk of development of …


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  1. Mark Stanbrook

    You what?

    This is the oddest thing I've ever read! Water is a cure to not having enough water? Well yes. Bottled water though should be carrying a warning saying "This water is no better for you than what comes out of your tap." The stuff that the Coca-Cola company sells under some Japanese sounding name is in fact from a tap.

    And that whole thing about drinking 2 litres per day is poppycock. You get your 2 litres, or the majority of it, from meat and plant matter if you're eating properly.

    Anyway recent research has shown that chocolate milk is better at rehydration than water is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thank's for that

      The myth about 2 litres/8 glasses of water a day is such "common knowledge" that even this story appears to give credence to it. The promoters of the myth even disallow water in tea or coffee (on the spurious grounds that the diuretic effect of caffeine in those drinks cancels out the hydration they provide).

      I used to be an instructor in Air Cadets and they had official training materials that stated the requirement as "2 to 3 litres a day of pure water". Cola drinks were totally banned on expeditions because of the caffeine (and because fizzy drinks contain carbon dioxide and we all know what happens if we breathe too high a concentration of CO2). When I asked if it was OK for the cadets to eat chocolate - yes sure. When I pointed out that a slab of dark chocolate contains more caffeine than a can of coke I was told to stick to the written training materials...

      As far as I understand the myth is based on a bit of 19th century work by a doctor who determined that 2 litres was the approx average daily requirement. The bit that got lost was that yes, he included included the water component of normal foodstuffs. I don't know who his "test subjects" were because the requirement for an overweight manual worker in a hot environment will be much higher and a small housebound person in a comfortable environment maybe less.

      Further more recent "support" was provided by a doctor in the USA who had found that patients with stomach ulcers gained some relief by drinking lots of water, translated that into "drinking lots of water is good for you" and then into "drinking lots of water is a miracle cure for everything - buy my book..." but still relied on the ulcer patients as his only evidence (I suggest that by diluting the natural acids in the stomach their irritant effect on the ulcers was reduced - but I'm not a doctor with a book to sell).

      Then there's the potential problem of water intoxication, In 2008, a British woman, died after drinking 4 liters of water in under two hours as part of a "LighterLife diet plan" which required that the dieter consume 4 litres of water a day as the only addition to the very frugal (and expensive) lighterlife foodpacks.

  2. Anonymous John

    Ban di-hydrogen monoxide!

    You know it make sense.

    1. Martin Maloney

      Get it right

      It's hydrogen hydroxide -- HOH -- not di-hydrogen monoxide -- H2O, although the YouTube video to which you alluded was funny.

      1. Goat Jam

        What Are You On About?

      2. Lockwood

        The neutral alkaline.

        Hydrogen hyroxide.

        Or, give it an acidic name.

        Hydroxic acid.

        HO H

        Acid + alkaline = water + salt.

        Hydroxic acid + hydrogen hyroxide = water + water

        Mind = blown.

  3. Ragarath


    Why? That is all.

  4. proto-robbie

    What a load of

    old piss. How fortunate we are to have the Germans running the EU for us, and spending our cash so wisely.

    At least it's Friday.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Their next study is on the effects of AIR on the lungs.

      Not sure too much of it does a body any good.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Air

        Too much oxygen is definitely bad for you. It's carcinogenic and breathing pure oxygen at atmospheric pressure for any length of time is, I'm told, just as fatal as drinking too much water.

        OTOH, it would clearly be ridiculous for the bottlers to be able to claim a "health benefit" for the filthy slop they stuff in their bottles, so I'm inclined to say that the committee made the right decision, even if they did make a thorough balls up of the report.

  5. c0md0t

    And once again I find myself saying..


    Did some people really sped three years debating the importance of water to our survival??

    1. John Bailey

      No they didn't.

      They spent 3 years coming up with a good way to stop bottled water companies from presenting it as a medical claim in advertising.

      I know.. You want to get into one about bent bananas, and hard hats for tight rope walkers and other EU tabloid mythology. But think for just a minute. And you may very well realise that they are doing something right.

      Why would a bottled water company want to make this claim? Doesn't everybody know that the cure for dehydration has always been to drink a high water content liquid? Or even eat a bit of fruit with a lot of juice, or have a cuppa?

      Could the answer possibly be marketing? In which case, you know as well as I do that they will try to present their water as being higher in hydrating properties than ordinary tap water. Especially when one bottle can make up a whole quarter of your daily recommended water intake. Instead of just an eighth from a glass of water that is half the size of the bottle.

      This is an important decision. Food labelling is dodgy enough as it is, and strewn with special interests and back room deals to keep any semblance of truth out of it.

      Today we get bottled water companies selling over priced bottles of water as a dehydration cure.

      Next week we get vitamin C sellers proclaiming on the bottle, the pills are vital to a healthy immune system. Which is true. But doesn't mention the fact that we get enough from food every day unless all we eat is meat. Or that any excess is excreted next time we have a pee.

      Making a medical claim for a product is a very serious thing.

      Stating the bleeding obvious as a medical claim is misleading too if done just right. And that was what took 3 years to stop happening. Not agreeing that water is essential, but figuring out rules that stop someone slapping it on a bottle of Evian.

      Right.. Back to your rant now..

      1. Gareth Jones 2

        @ John Bailey

        err - you are taking the piss, right?

        "Oh why do the people not rise up and slaughter these parasites?"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Good post

        John Bailey's post is actually the basis for why the EU has acted. I find it strange that so many of you refused to accept this and instead see the EU as being interfering. Just stop reading the Daily Moan for a moment and see what is actually there rather than what you want to see.

  6. John A Blackley

    And how much did this cost me?

    That's it, nothing more.

  7. Adam 74

    And once again I find myself saying..


  8. Christoph

    Don't touch that stuff!!!

    Don't they know that DHMO is DANGEROUS???

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trying to prevent copying of ditital files is like trying to make water "not wet"

    Was a phrase I heard on a computer course once.

    Having done their damnedest to regulate the internet (without total success so far), perhaps they've misunderstood the lack of actual direct causal link in the phrase and hope to change reality to fit their desires. The spirit of Sir James Jaspers MP lives on

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      making water 'not wet' is trivially easy

      take it to below 0 celcius

  10. Mr Young

    And that!

    Is why I like beer - it insulates me from this sort of EU drivel. Also, it's 95% water! Ye

  11. Efros

    Stuff is dangerous

    Should be banned immediately, have these people not heard of DHMO and the damage it can do!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dehydration is not a disease!

    It is a condition, or symptom; it can be caused by disease (or by not consuming water for a prolonged period).

    Who are these people and how are they qualified to define dehydration as a disease?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "They" are the bottlers. The committee considered their "therapeutic" claims and found them wanting.

  13. DJ 2

    The Icon says it all.

  14. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Water itself is not a remedy to dehydration

    Drinking a large dose of plain water (bottled or not) when in a state of severe dehydration can kill you.

    Once you have gone beyond a certain point you need salt.

    So, in fact, Kinley Soda peddled by Coca Cola Corp which has some copious amounts of NaCl is a passable remedy to mild dehydration. It is not a very good one because you need the right proportions of Na, K to deal with severe dehydration. There are special packs to be dissolved in water sold in most pharmacies on the continent. They are seriously nasty stuff, but worth having in your medkit just in case you end up with a serious stomach upset (or something else that dehydrates you) away from civilisation.

    Simple bottled water is not something you should touch if you are badly dehydrated. It will do more harm than good so Brussels is right here.

    1. DaveNotAMonkey


      "Water may be used to aid rehydration as part of a sensible hydration programme. People suffering from dehydration should consult with their pharmacist or doctor before using this treatment"


      This is what the world is coming to. Sad.

  15. bdsl

    Actually I think the sticking point wasn't "whether water alone, and how much, will cure dehydration", it was that the application defined the dehydration and the risk factors of dehydration to be the same thing.

    The food standards agency didn't agree that having less water in your tissues could be rightly considered a risk factor for dehydration, since it *is* dehydration as defined by the applicants.

    Also I'm not expert on EU food law, but from reading the linked decision it doesn't look like they're banning something that was previously permitted, instead they're refusing an application to be able to make a health claim, in a context where the only health claims allowed are those that have been applied for and approved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sell it as a preventative measure, instead of a cure?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Your tax money at work.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank God

    some of my taxes go towards supporting this vital work.

    All those people who want the country out of the EU are silent now.

    Is there any chance a politician could be encouraged to shut down this aspect of the EU and save us all a few bob?

  18. Eric Olson


    Considering that water can be toxic and cause water intoxication, this isn't completely far-fetched. Too much water and not enough electrolytes will cause your brain to go wonky and eventually kill you. See the Wee for a Wii contest a few years ago.

    So yes, this is a technically correct ruling. However, most people recoil in horror at technically correct, especially if they view it as being against common sense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Look at what happened to Leah Betts, took an E, followed the government guidelines to "drink loads of water" and due to not actually dancing and sweating it out coupled with the repetitive behavior caused by E drank too much water and died.

      This is now as uncommon as people may think.

  19. GrumpyJoe

    Isn't that 2 litres thingie

    debunked? Like the 10% of your brain stuff?

  20. Matthew Malthouse

    EU Shmee Moo

    They'll be insisting that we put meat in sausages next.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget though

    That the '2 litres per day' is the recommended intake of water in any form - it does not have to be 2 litres of bottled water. Tea/coffee/fruit/fruit juices and other water containing sources also count.

    This MAJOR 'oversight' is perpetuated by bottled water companies - who deliberately misinterpet the recommendations. You can actually get your 2 litres by drinking no 'neat' bottled or tap water at all.

    1. Cody

      In fact 2 litres is bad for you.

      The most common cause of death in marathons is not people getting dehydrated. They do not in fact get dehydrated because the body largely stops excreting water under stress.

      The most common cause of death is people drinking too much water without the proper balance of salts. Now that is really dangerous.

      The idea that we should all make ourselves drink two litres of water in addition to whatever else we drink is absolutely insane. What we should do is sleep when tired, eat when hungry and drink when thirsty.

      Look up Hyponatremia. Very nasty, hysteria about how much we should all drink can actually kill you.

  22. Thomas 18


    I think dehydration would improve performance if we make the measure 'how fast can you get from here to that river over there'

    Also its about bottled water specifically. Drinking a litre of tap water in the morning and a litre in the evening is just as good (if not better) than sipping of a plastic bottle all day.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They should have just deferred to Bill Hicks...

    I'm assuming this important question was raised by marketing or advertisers hoping to cash in on the "health dollar"...


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the problem is...

    Water Intake = Critical

    Benefits from intake as a clear, colourless, odourless etc liquid = unproven/bullshine.

    It doesn't really matter how we get the water in to our bodies (in fact much of our intake is from our food not drinks) so long as you get enough in, so these water companies claiming that drinking it pure is better than other drinks are possibly stretching the truth a little too far.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drinking 2 litres a day is bollocks

    You get more than half of that from food.

    And the rest from coffee, beer etc.

  26. Fuzz

    People still buy bottled water? Do they know you can get water out of the tap?

    I think there should be a requirement to state this on the side of bottles. Similar to the health warnings on cigarettes. WATER IS ALSO FREELY AVAILABLE FROM THE TAP

  27. DT

    Irreducto ad absurdium

    "This sticking point appears to be whether water alone, and how much, will cure dehydration."

    Er... that's not what the Brussels judgement said; it ruled that some the claimed associated benefits of hydration being made were too vague. There's no question of whether water "cures" dehydration!

    A prof on the radio made the point that almost everything edible aides against dehydration, as almost all drinks and foodstuffs contain water - technically if this ruling went the other way, even beer manufacturers could sell their product as health giving based on its water content.

  28. brainwrong

    Heath benefits?

    Why the fuck do these idiots feel they need to advertise the heath benefits of water?

    Doesn't everyone just know what water is?

    "My water is heathier than yours!". The world just gets more and more depressingly stupid.

    I still don't understand why people buy icecubes.

    Maybe they should try claiming it to be a placebo for alcohol, that would be more fun, drunk people who pass breath tests. Can I patent that stupid idea?

  29. Thomas 4

    "Dehydration is a disease"

    This is the most prepostorous bullshit I've ever heard and this is coming from someone that used to read the Daily Mail.

    A close second is the fact that it took them 3 years to arrive at this conclusion.

  30. Zaphod.Beeblebrox

    The inmates are now officially in charge of the asylum

    I weep for the future of our society.

  31. Liam Thom

    Good to know...

    ...our taxes continue to well spent.

  32. Lockwood

    Pure distilled 100% H2O water, nah.

    Mineral water, yes since it also has other goodness in it.

  33. Mickey Finn

    Bleedin' obvious...

    So we are paying these genius's in Brussels HOW MUCH? for these little gems...

    Water slakes thirst... uh huh!

  34. Oliver Mayes

    Water cannot be proven to be good for you so you can't say that it is.

    Homeopathic remedies cannot be proven to be good for you, get given benefit of the doubt as long as they're careful about how they phrase it. Go Brussels!!!

  35. DaveNotAMonkey

    Why do we need this piece of legislation in the first place? Why do we need this level of interference from the EU? What on earth is the justification for wasting resources "investigating" this? Only in the labyrinthine, profligate corridors of the EU can this be allowed to happen. And at who's expense? (no, not the WHO)

    When the entire continent is on it's knees (as indeed it was back in February), why the hell are these idiots torching time, effort and money on this?

    I happen to be a scientist, and I must say this journal "paper" is shoddy. It's not my field, but it reads like legalistic crap. Moreover, to receive funding for my work, I must demonstrate that it has scientific value. Does this have scientific value? Have we learnt from this?

    UK citizens, let's get out now. Referendum v2.0:

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reporting somewhat confused.

    >"Specifically they were seeking guidance on the claim that "the regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and the concomitant decrease of performance""

    >"This sticking point appears to be whether water alone, and how much, will cure dehydration."

    So what is it? Are they ruling on a claim that water can cure dehydration once you're suffering from it, or are they ruling on a claim that you can prevent dehydration in advance by drinking it?

  37. Schultz Silver badge

    Where to get this stuff?

    Sounds like a very essential supplement to me, will my pharmacy stock it for me?

  38. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Not really eurosceptic, but can I just ask....

    How much of the EU tax payers money was spent on a 3 year investigation on whether water prevented dehydration?

    Amazing really they even bothered.

    Personally I will stick with bottled beer rather than bottled water, far more in nutrients :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'd suspect it's the sort of thing that's taken three years because they've met up five times during that time and really been working on much more important things. I'd be astonished if it involved people working full time on the problem.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    You see, you guys are looking at this the wrong way!!

    In America, we have to buy a ticket to see this kind of comedy! I for one am jealous that the Euro-welfare-state gives you this kind of stuff for the price of admission in the EU!!

    Next week, Mario Monti and whats-his-face-in-charge-of-Greece-now advise you on how to make ends meet with your household budget!!

  40. Heikki Härkönen

    A bit nitpicing

    The boiling point of water is 373.1339 K, not 373.15K.

    By making the Celsius and Kelvin scales equal on 1 degree units, based on absolute zero and triple point of water, they have shifted the scale a bit, and now the water doesn't anymore boil at 100°C, but 99.9839 °C, or 373.1339 K, if you prefer Kelvis.

  41. /dev/me

    Good call

    I wouldn't want to live in a place where water is sold as a cure for dehydration.

    But even if someone /is/ dehydrated, I thought you'd have to give him water, not sell him water.

    1. Rune Moberg Silver badge

      Obligation to give away water

      That rule does not seem to apply at airports and most airplanes. They won't even allow you to bring your own water.

  42. johnwerneken

    irrational to a fault

    perhaps Bruseels will follow the Euro into oblivion. We can only hope.

  43. kain preacher

    2l a day

    Wow we yanks must really behind you Europeans (you r a peeing. Ok bad joke.) This side of the pond they say you should drink 8oz a day or 240ml.

  44. Mostor Astrakan

    An ounce of prevention...

    This is the European Food Safety Authority (or, yes, "Brussels" to the terminally lazy, even though they have offices all over Europe). One of their jobs is to verify the sometimes completely absurd claims that people make about their wonder food. So someone made a few claims about a bottle of water, most of which got approved, bar one.


    That's the claim that got rejected. What the "applicants" claimed was that regular intake of water "prevents" dehydration. Now in legalese and doctorese words have very specific meanings, and "prevents" is used in the context of vaccines or something that prevents you from getting a disease. We're definitely on *this* side of the looking glass here, and words don't mean what you want them to mean.

    Now no matter how regularly I drink my 2L of water usually, it won't keep me from getting dehydrated next week if I don't keep up the water habit, where, say, getting a flu shot now will protect me against flu for a long time.

    So the lusers here are the water peddlers. They worded their claim wrong.

    TL;DR: Whatever source you got that from, got it wrong.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had to say it aswell

    WTF this is why we need a dictator.

  46. Richard Cranium

    Put the boot on the other foot...

    Drug companies have to prove their claims. If the bottled water industry wants to make health claims surely it's their responsibility to prove them at their expense, not the EU to disprove them.

    The "drug testing trials" would be interesting - 100 patients were treated with water, while 100 were allowed none. Those denied water all experienced premature death - case proven...

  47. Purlieu

    Water ... "generally considered an essential nutrient"

    only "generally considered" .... ok then lets these eurocrats spend 3 years without any, ok I'll be merciful, 3 days

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