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Contaminated bottled water sold in UK as Zamzam: BBC

Source : Arab News
LONDON | 05 May 2011

Bottled water purporting to be Zamzam water and sold in three Islamic bookshops in the UK has been discovered to be contaminated with arsenic, according to claims by the BBC.

It reported on Thursday that a BBC investigation team found the contaminated bottled water in bookshops in south and east London and in Luton.

The water was taken for testing by the Association of Public Analysts, the agency that ensures consumables are unadulterated.

According to the agency’s president, Dr. Duncan Campbell, the water should not be drunk. “The water is poisoned, particularly because of the high levels of arsenic which is a carcinogen,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

This is not the first time that water sold in the UK as Zamzam has been found to be contaminated by arsenic. Last August, Muslims in Leicestershire were warned by local authorities that bottled water labeled as Zamzam water contained three times the permitted levels of arsenic as well as nitrates which can also cause cancer.

The BBC claim comes a day after residents in the United Arab Emirates were advised not to buy Zamzam water from shops following the discovery and confiscation of fake Zamzam water in Ras Al-Khaimah.   Some shops in the Emirates sell water claiming to be Zamzam although such sales are illegal in the UAE. The purported Zamzam water discovered in Ras Al-Khaimah turned out to be ordinary mineral water.

The export of authentic Zamzam water is not allowed by the Saudi authorities. However, foreign pilgrims are permitted to take home limited amounts for personal use or for friends and relatives. The water is provided free to pilgrims and is not a commercial product. However, a growing market for it exists around the world among Muslims.

Because it cannot be exported, the water sold as Zamzam around the world is inevitably of questionable origin.  

There have been several previous accounts of fake and adulterated Zamzam water being sold in the Kingdom to unsuspecting pilgrims. Arab News has received a number of complaints on the subject.

In the latest UK incident, the BBC said the three bookshops selling the Zamzam had refused to divulge how they had obtained it. Bottles have since been removed from the shelves.

In the UK, it is not illegal to sell Zamzam water, but selling falsely labeled goods can result in an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison. Selling unsafe goods is also punishable.

 

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