UPDATE: 5:00 p.m. — On Friday, Keurig Dr Pepper announced a voluntary withdrawal of its Peñafiel unflavored mineral spring water, which is imported from Mexico, citing “violative levels of arsenic.”
“Arsenic when present in the diet at very high levels, well above those detected in recent samples of Peñafiel, is associated with numerous chronic diseases,” a company press release read. “Water quality tests of Peñafiel samples conducted by an independent laboratory on behalf of Keurig Dr Pepper detected arsenic at levels that exceeded the FDA’s bottled water standards for mineral water of 10 ppb.”
The recall includes all of the brand’s 600-milliliter and 1.5-liter unflavored mineral spring water products. Consumers may return the bottles to their local stores for a refund.
High levels of arsenic have been found in two bottled water brands sold at major grocery stores, according to a new batch of tests commissioned by the California nonprofit Center for Environmental Health.
In a press release on Tuesday, the organization announced that Starkey water, owned by Whole Foods, and Peñafiel, owned by Keurig Dr Pepper and sold at Target and Walmart, contain arsenic amounts “above the level requiring a health warning under California’s consumer protection law.” The toxin can cause cancer and reproductive harm, the release says.
CEH’s CEO, Michael Green, warned that while bottled water may seem like a safer choice than tap water, it could result in serious health problems in this case.
“Consumers are being needlessly exposed to arsenic without their knowledge or consent,” Green said, adding that “they are ingesting an extremely toxic metal.”
Green told HuffPost on Friday that the exact levels of arsenic could not be disclosed because the organization is now suing both Whole Foods and Keurig Dr Pepper over the matter.
However, CEH said its findings corroborated Consumer Reports research that also found high arsenic levels in the bottled water brands.
In April, Consumer Reports conducted a round of tests on Starkey water, finding that the arsenic levels in three samples registered between 9.48 to 9.86 ppb, and a fourth was 10.1 ppb, slightly exceeding the federal limit of 10 ppb.
In response, Whole Foods told the outlet that it conducted its own tests around that time using the same batch of water, and determined that the products meet Food and Drug Administration standards.
In a separate set of tests on Peñafiel, Consumer Reports discovered that arsenic levels were nearly double the federal limit, averaging 18.1 ppb.
Keurig Dr Pepper spokesperson Katie Gilroy told the outlet the company’s internal tests conducted later found “somewhat elevated levels” around 17 ppb.
On Friday, FDA press officer Peter Cassell told HuffPost the agency contacted Keurig Dr Pepper in May as a result of Consumer Reports’ research and is “working with the company to gather more information and follow up on the issue.”
The FDA has not contacted Whole Foods, saying it does not see an issue with its bottled water, but acknowledged that Starkey has faced safety problems in the past.
In 2017, the FDA pushed for a recall of Starkey’s water based on the agency’s own surveillance sampling.
Whole Foods declined HuffPost’s request for comment on CEH’s lawsuit.