Last month, a pending class action lawsuit was filed in Connecticut federal court claiming Poland Spring® bottled water actually comes from common groundwater and that Nestlé is not in compliance with the stringent regulations the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) places on spring water. For years, the FDA has required bottled spring water be collected at a naturally occurring spring or from a well supplying this type of spring. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit stated that the majority of the water collected and bottled not only does not meet this requirement but that such springs simply don’t exist. The plaintiff’s attorney Craig Raabe stated that “there is no photographic proof that even one such spring – much less eight – exists on or near defendant’s sites in Maine.” However, Nestlé recently received an official letter supporting its position.
The letter came from the State of Maine Drinking Water Program (DWP), the state agency responsible for enforcing the implementation of FDA rules concerning Maine’s bottled water, and seems to prove the plaintiff’s claims are “frivolous”. The letter specifically affirms all eight of the Poland Spring® Brand springs in the state of Maine exist and “meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) definition of spring water.” The DWP letter states further that the sites meet “The State of Maine’s Rules Related to Drinking Water” and “State of Maine’s Rules Related to Bulk Water” among other specific standards and requirements.
Nestlé has stated from the beginning that the “claims made in the lawsuit are without merit and an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain…This lawsuit seems to be an attempt to rehash an old debate about the proper use of the term ‘spring water’. That debate was resolved in 1995.” Company representatives feel, “The DWP letter is further validation of this important fact, despite the allegations of opportunistic attorneys in their baseless lawsuits.” In response to the official letter, the company also stated, “Consumers can be confident in the accuracy of the labels on every bottle of Poland Spring® and that Poland Spring® is just what it says it is – 100 percent natural spring water…We work hard to ensure the quality and integrity of our spring water products, earn our consumers’ trust and uphold the 170-year history of the Poland Spring® brand.”
All eight locations of the company’s springs – Poland Spring, Cold Spring, Clear Spring, Spruce Spring, Garden Spring, Evergreen Spring, White Cedar Spring and Bradbury Spring – are individually listed and cited as meeting the state’s official criteria for spring water collection and distribution. The letter goes on to explain that these sites are indeed the water sources for “NWNA Hollis, Maine bottling plant, bottled under the label: ‘Poland Spring®,'” thereby debunking rumors that Poland Spring, Maine, dried out nearly half a century ago, so the actual water source is common groundwater or water from the bottom of a lake. The plaintiff’s filing also alleged Nestlé’s other collection sites are no more than artificially created springs with pipes transporting water into wetlands and other contaminated sources, which DWP’s findings prove to be false.