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Food by VICE

Brands Sold Bottled Water That Smelled Like 'Poo' and 'Old Socks,' Report Finds

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency concluded that, in most cases, the stinky bottled water "did not pose a danger."

by Bettina Makalintal
Mar 5 2019, 8:31pm

Over 7,000 people think drinking pee will, somehow, heal whatever ails them. As VICE reported earlier today, there’s a movement called urine therapy that involves—you guessed it—“urine fasting,” where people eat minimally, if at all, for a set time period, while drinking water and human pee in the hopes of solving health problems like asthma and nerve damage.

When those urine fasters hit their self-imposed deadlines, they presumably resume life as people who don’t subside on human waste liquid. But if they’re in Canada, they might have found at this point that their bottled water also smells, well, like pee. According to government inspection reports from 2014 to 2018 that were obtained by CBC News, bottled water from some of Canada’s biggest suppliers has been reported for nasty complaints like smelling like urine and diarrhea, and tasting like “old socks.”

Those complaints applied to the Coca-Cola-owned Dasani bottled water and to bottled waters from the Loblaws and Safeway grocery chains. And while chugging a bottle of stinky H2O might sound like an illness waiting to happen, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency concluded that, in most cases, the stinky bottled water was supposedly fine and “did not pose a danger.” (Hold your nose while you hydrate, I guess.)

The funky water was the result of quality control and bottling problems, the CFIA concluded. In the case of Dasani, the “moldy/musty odour” like “old socks” happened because the bottles were packaged while moist. Loblaws’ allegedly poo-scented water (also compared to “garbage” and “toilet water” in complaints) was likely caused by an air filtering system that has since been replaced. High sulfur levels were blamed for the “egg-like” and “fecal-like” smells in Safeway’s bottled spring water. In all of those cases, the companies dealt with the issues and the CFIA closed the investigations.

Over those four years, there were two instances of voluntary bottled water recalls from separate companies, but the CFIA told CBC that “health and safety issues at water bottling companies aren't common.” In Big Water’s defense, stinky water can also happen at home, caused by things like faulty water heaters and drain bacteria.

The next time someone suggests that bottled water is better than tap, however, save them the sustainability sanctimony and just warn them about the risk of smelly poop water.