Speaking of Government Science...

Thank God for the Left and their scientific approach to government decision making

EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration...

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

For three years a group of government employees actually got paid to come to the conclusion that drinking water does not prevent dehydration.  Congrats.

If you want an explanation, my guess is that this is part of the Left's war on bottled water.  For some bizarre reason, bottled water has been singled out as one of the evils of modern technology that will drive us into a carbon dioxide-induced climate disaster.  So I don't think the EU would have approved any label claim for water.  Since this is such an absurdly obvious claim that most consumers would just chuckle at (yes, consumers can be trusted to parse product claims), I almost wonder if some water company didn't just float this to make the point that no claim could be approved in the EU system.


  1. me:

    ROTFL. Brilliant example. Italy is a very special place for very many reasons, and the EU bureaucrazy is one of the worst worldwide, with only former Soviet Russia and the USA to match. That said, what if anything this has to do with "The Left" (whomever they are?).

  2. TG:

    It's not that sinister this time, just a bureaucracy being a bureaucracy. You pointed out bureaucracies tend to be impossible to work with because bureaucrats have every incentive to follow the rulebook to the letter, no matter how stupid contained therein are. This is sort of one of those stories. The actual ruling from http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:299:0001:0003:EN:PDF - link taken from commenter Andrew M over at timworstall.com:

    " The claim proposed by the applicant was worded as follows:
    'Regular consumption of significant amounts of water
    can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and
    of concomitant decrease of performance'

    Article 2(2)(6) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 defines
    reduction of disease risk claims as 'any health claim that
    states, suggests or implies that the consumption of a
    food category, a food or one of its constituents
    significantly reduces a risk factor in the development of
    a human disease'. Upon request for clarification, the
    applicant proposed water loss in tissues or reduced
    water content in tissues as risk factors of dehydration.
    On the basis of the data presented, the Authority
    concluded in its opinion received by the Commission
    and the Member States on 16 February 2011 that the
    proposed risk factors are measures of water depletion
    and thus are measures of the disease. Accordingly, as a
    risk factor in the development of a disease is not shown
    to be reduced, the claim does not comply with the
    requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 and it
    should not be authorised

    See? Water doesn't reduce a risk factor in the development of dehydration, so they can't claim that it does. It just cures dehydration itself, which, thanks to the wording of the relevant rule, is completely besides the point.

    Bureaucracies are great, thank God that we keep getting more of them.

  3. peter azlac:

    The EU is correct in their decision in refusing to allow the claim that water alone prevents dehydration as it confuses the real need. When persons engage in vigorous exercise they do not just lose water by sweating but electrolytes - sodium, magnesium and potassium - and need a correctly formulated re-hydration solution to re-balance their cells. Surely one should drink enough water when one exercises but this alone is not enough.

  4. Mark:

    @Peter Most of the claims of needing electrolytes after exercise is considered bunk foisted upon us by power drink makers.

    The best thing after exercise is water in moderate amounts. The only time electrolytes come into play is if you are trying to drink a gallon+ of water at once. Without a balance your blood cells end up exploding, and your brain cells start hemorrhaging and you die.

  5. JJ:

    Brawndo!! It's got electrolytes!!

  6. LTMG:

    In the mid-1990s I visited several countries, including Austria, on a guided tour. Several tourists asked why the lane lines painted on the roads were orange instead of white. The tour guide explained that orange lane lines were visibile when there was snow on the road. She went on to say that due to an EU directive, Austria was going to have to repaint all of the lane lines white in order to meet the requirements of an EU law.

    I have to wonder if any of the same people behind the lane line color change are also participating in determining if it is acceptable to say that drinking water prevents dehydration.

  7. eddie:

    I can't believe I'm saying this, but in this case the bEUreaucrats are exactly correct.

    The linked article says, at the very end:

    Prof Brian Ratcliffe, spokesman for the Nutrition Society, said dehydration was usually caused by a clinical condition and that one could remain adequately hydrated without drinking water. He said: “The EU is saying that this does not reduce the risk of dehydration and that is correct. This claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.”

    It seems to me that Professor Ratcliffe is correct.

  8. Joseph Hertzlinger:

    A few years ago, the British Medical Journal ran an article pointing out that there were no randomized double-blind studies proving that parachutes prevented injury in falls. A the time, I took it to be a joke, but now I'm not so sure...

  9. a_random_guy:

    The article is entirely correct.

    Lots of products want to claim health benefits - whether or not this makes any sense. It sounds obvious that drinking water prevents dehydration, but this is not necessarily so - it depends on *why* you are dehydrated. If this is a medical condition, you can drink all the water you want, and it may just kill you faster.

    The labeling here makes just as much sense as labeling candy "low fat" - just because it's pure sugar. Sure, from a particular point of view, it is true - but it is nonetheless misleading and inappropriate.

    Stupid article, written to cause indignation where none is justified.

  10. John A:

    If you get very "technical" the ruling is "correct," but read this sentence again:

    "This claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.”

    Agreed (I happen to think the bottled-water thing is 90-98% a huge scam, except for being able to carry it - and a canteen is better for that). But now, apply that to any advertisement you've ever seen. Remember any that does not at least imply, if not outright state, "our product is better than [most] others?"

    This is a step, and not the first, toward banning advertising, and thus competition, leaving only one "brand" - preferably completely under "government" control. Am I scaremongering? Perhaps, indeed I hope so, but it does worry me.

  11. Ted Rado:

    Evert time I think governments have reached thr height of absurdity, I am proven wrong.

    To think we pay these sort of people to run the world. Let's fire them all and get a monkey from the zoo.

  12. morganovich:



    i was just about to say that.

  13. Gil:

    The Left? If anything Conservatives (especially of the "Reader's Digest" vein) were the ones to try to point to (probably) Lefties that their use of bottled water is pointless as tap water is perfectly adequate and studies shows people can't tell the difference.

  14. DavidR:

    So, what do they now call those things on the street to which firemen attach water hoses? Obviously, they can't call them "hydrants"...

  15. Fred from Canuckistan:

    Only three years of discussions to arrive at that conclusion.

    Probably dozens of meetings, thousands of emails, telephone calls and sheets of paper printed.

    A perfect metaphor for Euroland and why it is going down the economic tubes.

  16. Hasdrubal:

    First, why the necessity that drinking water be the _only_ or _best_ way to prevent dehydration? That's an impossible standard to live up to, it's much more reasonable to say that if water can prevent (or cure) dehydration in some cases, that's true enough to put on the bottle.

    Second, while American lefties seem to be fighting a war on bottles water (I've seen a lot of hysteria over chemicals from the plastic leeching into the drinking water, then there's the pollution from the plastic itself, etc.) are European lefties doing the same? Europeans simply don't drink tap water, it's all bottled water. You ask for a glass of water in someone's home and out comes a bottle, you ask for water at a restaurant you end up buying a bottle. It seems odd to me that these people would be fighting against bottled water, maybe fighting against non-returnable, non-glass bottled water, but not the product category itself.

  17. caseyboy:

    At least they don't have to concern themselves with the Euro or Sovereign debt in Europe. Or is this just a way to do something about something they can do something about?

  18. IGotBupkis, Unicorn Fart Entrepreneur:

    >>> To think we pay these sort of people to run the world. Let’s fire them all and get a monkey from the zoo.

    Can't we just line them up against a wall and have them all foolkilled? Let's go ahead and shoot the monkey, too... just in case.

  19. Les:

    CERTAIN Mineral Waters like "Perrier" are a diuretic - This makes you pee more than you drink so yes it dehydrates you!

  20. smurfy:

    "(yes, consumers can be trusted to parse product claims)"
    Homeopathy suggests otherwise.

  21. Sam L.:

    They've been bought by the beer and wine lobbies.