In a surreal act of authority, the EU established law that forbids manufacturers of bottled water from claiming that water can hydrate the human body.
You read that right.
It all started when Dr. Andreas Hahn and Dr. Moritz Hagenmeyer, advisers to European food manufacturers, contacted the European Commission to ask whether manufacturers could claim that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration”.
The question was posed to the EU after new laws came out that restricted manufacturers from making claims that products could reduce the risk of disease.
After conducting a three year study, in February of 2011, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) responded to the two professors stating that the EFSA would not approve such a statement being made by bottled water producers.
21 Scientists Say Water Won’t Prevent Dehydration
According to the Telegraph, the investigation concluded with a meeting in Parma, Italy, where 21 scientists agreed that ultimately dehydration was caused by “reduced water content in the body”, and not as a direct result of whether or not a person is drinking water.
The scientists made the controversial claim because, they say, dehydration is often caused by an underlying medical condition, rather than simply from the lack of drinking enough water.
The statement from the EFSA became the larger EU directive to manufacturers issued on Wednesday, November 23rd.
Following the directive, scientists and other critics across the world lambasted the EU for trying to discredit a fact that has been medically accepted for eons.
A spokesperson from the Department for Health did not support the EU in the decision, instead telling the Telegraph:
“Of course water hydrates. While we support the EU in preventing false claims about products, we need to exercise common sense as far as possible.”
While Americans are accustomed to numerous stringent FDA regulations about what products can list as claims on product labels, the EU ruling easily puts anything the FDA has ever produced to shame.
What Does Science Really Say?
Most experts agree that the EU is patently incorrect that there isn’t enough evidence to support that drinking water can help prevent dehydration.
Professor Hahn of Hanover Leibniz University left no doubt that the EU has made a tremendous mistake in creating the law when he told the Telegraph:
“The European Commission is wrong; it should have authorised the claim. That should be more than clear to anyone who has consumed water in the past, and who has not? We fear there is something wrong in the state of Europe.”
Whether or not the ridicule from the scientific and academic communities lead to the law getting overturned, for now, no bottled water manufacturer in Europe can claim that drinking water can cure dehydration.
It may only be a matter of time before the EU produces future edicts that ban companies from claiming that matches can start fire, that sleeping cures exhaustion, or that eating less may lead to weight loss.