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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Spring Water returned to all 71 Wegmans stores on Jan. 14. Along with new packaging in clear bottles, the newly reinstated water boasts “a quality assurance pedigree that may set a new safety standard in the industry,’ according to the retailer.
Last August, Wegmans Food Markets issued a voluntary recall after learning that some samples of its private label bottled spring water had tested above the 10-parts-per-billion limit for bromate set by the FDA. Bromide, which naturally occurs in spring water, is converted to bromate when exposed to ozone during the disinfection process. Although EPA has estimated a cancer potency value for bromate, there are no studies linking bromate in drinking water with adverse health effects in humans.
Wegmans said it studied spring water issues in depth, learning all it could about sources, disinfection, and safety protocols. Working in collaboration with bottled water quality assurance specialist Laura Current, the grocer also reviewed over 20 potential spring water suppliers. Current and Steve Glenning, Wegmans’ beverage category merchant, additionally made site visits to evaluate equipment, product safety and testing protocols, record-keeping, plant cleanliness, and management philosophy.
Wegmans eventually chose two suppliers: one in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, and the other in New Hampshire’s Ossipee Mountains.
“We needed more than one supplier,” said Glenning, “and both of these companies did an outstanding job of working with us on standards for quality and safety.”
To ensure quality going forward, Wegmans came up with a 72-point checklist of tests to be performed hourly, daily, monthly, or annually. First, the supplier tests for bromate, bromide, and bacteria. Second, a third-party lab verifies the supplier’s results. Third, Wegmans takes sample bottles from its own inventory and sends them to another third-party laboratory for testing.
“This is where Wegmans has gone above and beyond standard quality assurance practices,” notes Current. “By testing product samples from their own inventory, they are ensuring the consistency of the test results from the bottler as well as the outside laboratory. This way Wegmans can ensure that they are providing the highest-quality product possible to their customers. It’s a standard for extraordinary confidence.”
Family-owned Wegmans is a 71-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.