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Mexico’s Peñafiel bottled water found with high levels of arsenic

A new Consumer Reports investigation says that Mexico’s bottled water brand Peñafiel contains unsafe levels of arsenic.

The report, which was released last week, says that after testing the Peñafiel water brand, they found it to contain 18.1 ppb, a level well above the allowed 10 ppb as set out by the Food and Drug Administration.

According to Consumer Reports, in March, the company provided them with a water quality report from 2018 which stated no detectable levels of arsenic, however this week, the company conducted new testing due to Consumer Reports questioning and confirmed it’s water has an average of 17 ppb, levels well-above the federal limit.

On Monday, the Peñafiel company, which is owned by Keurig Dr Pepper, announced a halt to its production for two weeks.

Consumer Reports says that Keurig Dr Pepper has “suspended bottled water production for two weeks at its Mexico facility that makes Peñafiel for export to the U.S. It plans to improve filtration at the plant to lower arsenic levels,” however, there was no word on an improved filtration system for its products distributed throughout Mexico.

Peñafiel is not planning a product recall, only an improved filtration system, however, Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at CR said that “Keurig Dr Pepper should recall all Peñafiel water currently on the market that may contain these violative levels. If they do not act, the FDA should mandate a recall.”

During the recent Consumer Reports testing, Mexico’s Peñafiel was one of several North American companies found with bottled water containing above-FDA-levels of arsenic. The other companies found with high levels of arsenic in their bottled water products were Starkey by Whole Foods, Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water, Volvic by Danone, Crystal Creamery and EartH₂O.

Although the federal standard for arsenic is 10 ppb, the recommended level is 3 ppb since research shows that consuming amounts above that over an extended period of time can be potentially dangerous.

Mexico’s Peñafiel has three plants around the country and, according to their website, has been in business for 60 years with a large bottled beverage selection that includes popular brands such as Snapple, Dr. Pepper, Clamato, Squirt, Canada Dry and Aquafiel.

Peñafiel is part of Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

According to the CDC, arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is found in combination with either inorganic or organic substances to form many different compounds. Inorganic arsenic compounds are found in soils, sediments, and groundwater. These compounds occur either naturally or as a result of mining.

People are most likely to be exposed to inorganic arsenic through drinking water and to a lesser extent through various foods. Long-term exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic in drinking water has been associated with skin disorders and increased risks for diabetes, high blood pressure, and several types of cancer.