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"Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."
November 20, 2011 4:32 AM   Subscribe

"Of course water hydrates." or does it? EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration. Brussels bureaucrats were ridiculed yesterday after banning drink manufacturers from claiming that water can prevent dehydration. And hysteria over the EU's ruling on water and dehydration ensues. You can read the EU's ruling here (PDF). Highland Spring vows to defy EU rule on water labelling.
posted by Fizz (103 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
The wonderful thing is, that after reading both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail pronounce this as an absurdity, I am sure that the EU has ruled correctly.

And lo, the Guardian speaks sense, once again. I would be happy but for the knowledge that, like the lies over bendy bananas, boring pub cunts will still be prattling on about this in a decade's time.
posted by Jehan at 4:58 AM on November 20, 2011 [33 favorites]


When I first read the headline. I hit the [rant] button[/rant], but then I realized why they were doing this. And while it makes sense from a business/ethics perspective, it also just confirms that the EU wastes a lot of time and money doing fuck all.
posted by Fizz at 5:02 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

Last night, critics claimed the EU was at odds with both science and common sense. Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.

“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.

“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”


LOL.EU

You see how critics claim it is "at odds with both science and common sense" when the rub seems to be that there is no scientific evidence to support the common sense.

Moreover this would appear to be one of those mundane commercial issues that for some reason needs to be clarified within the common market. This is the whole bloody point of the EU - to provide clarity and uniformity on mundane issues related to trade. And that even while the Evro is burning, certain agencies within the EU continue to function and make progress on these utterly boring, but ultimately important commercial matters.

In other words, this is the EU working as designed, following its own rules, relying on evidence and generally doing its proper job.
posted by three blind mice at 5:03 AM on November 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


Well, they should probably concentrate on the ridiculous bullshit claimed by manufacturers of sports drinks, macrobiotic yoghurts and the like. What they are clumsily getting at here is the way that purveyors of bottled water would like us to believe that bottled water is the only way of re-hydrating.

"NHS health guidelines state clearly that drinking water helps avoid dehydration, and that Britons should drink at least 1.2 litres per day. "

If you're peeing every day, you're getting enough fluid. Get it from tea, coffee, water, whatever.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:08 AM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course the only reason tea or coffee can rehydrate you is because it contains water. So the claim still stands, you need water. No one said you can't put stuff in the water.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:18 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


it also just confirms that the EU wastes a lot of time and money doing fuck all.

You think it took a lot of time and money to make a seven page report? The Guardian writeup seems to suggest it was all done just as a bit of a joke.
posted by Jehan at 5:19 AM on November 20, 2011


it also just confirms that the EU wastes a lot of time and money doing fuck all.

You know I hear this all the time in England. But not being English I grew up somewhere where there was no EU type organization so I tend to notice what the EU actually does.

In Birmingham the EU has subsidized the renovation of just about all the fixed up historical buildings. They funded the restoration of the Town Hall which was a staggering £30 Million.

They have insured, via legislation, that I was treated well during two flight cancellations - the first due to the Icelandic volcano and the second due to a cabin fire - EU flight disruption protections are fantastic compared to the big giant regulatory FU that North Americans get.

The EU border pass through is a beautiful thing for those who get to do it. The next time you get to breeze through border control with barely pause take a look over at the line for non-EU passports. That's where I stand for about half and hour longer than you.

British Science scores big in EU grant money and EU students get all kinds of opportunities for conferences and travel. This partially softens the recent Tory cuts and has slowed down the flight of International researchers to more recently favourable funding areas like the US.

EU human rights protection/shaming regardless of whether it is a Tory or Labour government.

EU Common Market - If I have to explain this one then you are just being obtuse.

EU postal zone - I can send things all the way to Turkey for one standard rate. In Canada you can't even send a package to a different postal code without having to calculate a different rate.

So when you say the EU does fuck all I can only conclude you don't know what it is like to not have an organization like the EU. It's like complaining about air, while breathing it, because one day it blew some leaves into you pool.
posted by srboisvert at 5:29 AM on November 20, 2011 [166 favorites]


Alter slash suggests this political correctness totalitarianism gone mad is all fizz no pop. Water is wet... You cant explain that. Stopping marketers from coopting useful medical terminology, not pc gone wild.

It is an anti-'pizza is a vegetable act'.

Re:Once Again...
By eh2o • 2011-Nov-20 01:38 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
It seems that they actually convened a panel of scientists and determined that the statement was false.

Dehydration (the clinical, medical term), has multiple forms (e.g. hypertonic, hypotonic, isotonic). Dehydration is caused by factors such as burns, vomiting, diarrhea, methamphetamine use, diseases such as cholera, yellow fever, diabetes. Some of those conditions are rather serious--if a doctor thinks a patient is at risk of developing dehydration due to a medical complication, they don't simply give them water to drink, they administer the proper balance of water to electrolytes depending on the condition.

If the bottled water manufacturers had requested a more accurate statement, it would have been so full of technical jargon that they wouldn't be useful as a marketing tag line.

For example Pedialyte is basically just bottled water plus electrolytes, and it is advertised as follows "Use Pedialyte oral electrolyte solution under medical supervision for the dietary management of dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting."
posted by infinite intimation at 5:29 AM on November 20, 2011 [18 favorites]


srboisvert, You are correct, I do not know very much at all about the EU and I am sure it does quite a bit of good. Your post was very informative, thank you. My snark/rant filter was on and I guess I just struggle with all the bureaucracy involved in legislative bodies like the EU.
posted by Fizz at 5:34 AM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This seems obvious. Dehydration is a medical issue (explained well in infinite intimation's post), so the advertisement claim that 'drinking this water to prevent dehydration' does not seem like adequate medical advice if you've caught a bad germ and probably need to see a doctor and/or take medication. But I am not a doctor, it just seems to be 'common sense.'
posted by romanb at 5:58 AM on November 20, 2011


This kind of makes sense to me. "Water hydrates" would be a valid claim, but "water prevents dehydration" is problematic because dehydration is generally caused by factors that water can't prevent, like viral or bacterial infections.
posted by muddgirl at 6:03 AM on November 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


Regardless of one's general views on the EU, I'd say that most of its food regulation is a force for good, particularly when you look at what the food industry gets away with across the Atlantic (although I will concede that the synthetic hormones American cows are fed with do result in delightfully tender beef).
posted by rhymer at 6:16 AM on November 20, 2011


Here's the EU blog dedicated to debunking the anti-EU nonsense coming from UK newspapers and politicians (nothing on the water hysteria yet). Their Euromyths archives (from 1993 to 2009) contain no less than 178 entries. It's a monthly business.
By the way, one of two German professors is not a "food scientist" (as claimed in the Guardian article) but a lawyer.
posted by elgilito at 6:21 AM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm reminded of Bill Hicks:

L.A. is a very confusing place, only place I know where you can have, simultaneously, a drought and a flood. Every time you watch the weatherman, he goes, 'Rained all day, didn't help the drought. Back to you, Tom.' I got news for you, folks. If water doesn't solve your drought, you're screwed. There's no "anti-drought gel" being deveolped by DuPont...

If water doesn't solve your dehydration: you're screwed.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:24 AM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


It does make sense, because it IS a false medical claim. Drinking water wouldn't prevent dehydration in cases where electrolytes were lost along with body fluid, for example--it would actually make the person sick, causing hyponatremia, which could be fatal.
posted by Kyrieleis at 6:25 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


That water hydrates is so obvious, does it really need stating on our bottled water in so medicalised a language as to try and imply that it is a feature of that particular brand rather than water in general? Apparently the EU agrees with me in saying 'no'.
posted by Dysk at 6:31 AM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, they should probably concentrate on the ridiculous bullshit claimed by manufacturers of sports drinks, macrobiotic yoghurts and the like.

Actually, that is exactly what they do. If you read the Guardian article, you will see that the only reason why EFSA produced this ruling was because two German professors, disgruntled by EFSA's strict parking of bullshit health claims (and, I'm sure, with no connection whatsoever to food industry lobbyists) submitted this as a test case. In short: a manufactured outrage, courtesy of big business interests...
posted by Skeptic at 6:41 AM on November 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Dear EU: While we appreciate the effort, it really isn't necessary for you to try to make America look like we don't have the dumbfuckest first-world government in the world.
posted by localroger at 6:42 AM on November 20, 2011


localroger, reading the links or the thread wouldn't hurt.
posted by ersatz at 6:44 AM on November 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


(and, I'm sure, with no connection whatsoever to food industry lobbyists)

The Age link notes the 2 profs "advise food manufacturers on advertising."

For folks who haven't yet clicked the "hysteria" Guardian link:

The claim wasn't submitted for a genuine product, but was created as a deliberate 'test' exercise by the two professors, who were apparently already unhappy with the European Food Standards Authority. The panel were well aware of its absurdity too..

So yeah, deliberately worded claim for a non-existent commercial campaign, designed only to provoke this kind of media shitstorm. I'm a bit unclear on the legalities of the "ban," though, with an EU spokesmodel saying, "...the final decision is for member states" and some of the anti-EU UK papers waving around 2-year jail terms as possible consequences.

Can anyone clarify how binding this ruling is?
posted by mediareport at 6:46 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will concede that the synthetic hormones American cows are fed with do result in delightfully tender beef
Actually, meat tenderness is reduced by hormone growth promoters. The main determinants of tenderness are postmortem factors, followed by genetics and nutrition.
posted by elgilito at 6:47 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of the "German professors", Moritz Hagenmeyer, wrote a paper called "Health Claims meet Bureaucracy". Here's the abstract:
What's new pussycat? All quiet on the western front! But fresh legislation is approaching. The more I see you, the more I want you? Definitely not: The European Health Claims Regulation will make life increasingly complicated for food manufacturers wishing to advertise the health related benefits of their products. The author outlines the regulation as adopted by the European Parliament and points out the pitfalls, some more obvious than others. He concludes that food marketing will not change very much in substance, but that industry, scientists, authorities and lawyers will nonetheless have to cope with considerably more work, because bureaucracy is what it's all about!

In a nutshell: a lawyer says that the EU preventing food manufacturers to make bogus claims is a bad thing because it will mean more work for... lawyers. The idiotic water claim is not even a dirty trick from bottled water manufacturers, it's an advertisement for a German law firm.
posted by elgilito at 7:00 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course the only reason tea or coffee can rehydrate you is because it contains water. So the claim still stands, you need water. No one said you can't put stuff in the water.

Which is precisely why this is a bullshit health benefit claim. You could slap it on everything that contains water, from beer to bratwurst, and it would be entirely true.
posted by howfar at 7:07 AM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


The tiniest part of me hopes that the ruling will also make marketing think twice before doing this.
posted by fragmede at 7:08 AM on November 20, 2011


You guys have missed the point - this was a trap planned by german lawyers that the EU converted to a trap for bad science writers. Now we know that the web site "Science 2.0" functions on the same level as "The Daily Mail". As a consumer of news this is a useful thing for me to know.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:09 AM on November 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


an advertisement for a German law firm.

Indeed, a quick search turns out that Prof. Dr. Hagenmeyer (his professorial chair is honorary, BTW) is a partner in Krohn Rechtsanwälte, a Hamburg law firm.
posted by Skeptic at 7:10 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


You think it took a lot of time and money to make a seven page report?

Clearly you've never seen a lawyer's bill.

In other news, the EU wants to ban children under fourteen from whistleblowing
posted by IndigoJones at 7:21 AM on November 20, 2011


macrobiotic yoghurts

which need to be banned as well. mainly due to their fucking irritating commercials. that goes double for those Truvia ads with the grating girl singer.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now we know that the web site "Science 2.0" functions on the same level as "The Daily Mail"

A bit lower, actually; the Daily Mail doesn't start Lysol ads with audio when you load its pages.
posted by mediareport at 7:34 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other news, the EU wants to ban children under fourteen from whistleblowing

The text of the link clearly doesn't support the claim. Requiring warnings from manufacturers is simply not the same as a ban. Given that the article contradicts the headline, a little more research might be called for before using the Telegraph as a reliable source on this.

Or did you just mean to write "I hate the EU. Here is something that helps me justify that"?
posted by howfar at 7:36 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


ersatz, I did read the links and the thread. It was probably a trap but the commission fell for it hook, line, sinker, rod and reel, and boat.
posted by localroger at 7:36 AM on November 20, 2011


Is anyone else concerned that this is all a publicity stunt for some energy drink, possibly one that contains what plants crave? Because this all seems oddly familiar.
posted by Stoatfarm at 7:51 AM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Or did you just mean to write "I hate the EU. Here is something that helps me justify that"?

Oh for God's sake, it was a joke. As the tone of the first line should have told you.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:51 AM on November 20, 2011


Is anyone else concerned that this is all a publicity stunt for some energy drink, possibly one that contains what plants crave?

cowshit?
posted by jonmc at 7:53 AM on November 20, 2011


Oh for God's sake, it was a joke.

Huh. That part didn't read like a joke to me at all.
posted by mediareport at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2011


In other news, the EU wants to ban children under fourteen from whistleblowing

To be fair, any legislation that can reduce the ability of children to make noise would be welcome. If the EU could arrange for people under the voting age to stay off my lawn, that would also be welcome.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:08 AM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


It was probably a trap but the commission fell for it hook, line, sinker, rod and reel, and boat.

Well, it isn't as if EFSA had a choice. If somebody properly submits them a case, they can't just refuse to consider it on the grounds that it is a trick or joke case. They are obliged to apply the law to the letter. This is why it's so easy to bait bureaucracies: not because civil servants are dumb, but because they are (thankfully) obliged to follow rigid rules.
posted by Skeptic at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


A good basic rule on EU stories is this: Find out what Roger Helmer thinks and take the other perspective.

Helmer rants against the EU but, as just one example, he signed up to a secret 'second pension' cooked up by some MEPs. According to rumoour, the pension fund was invested with people who invested in Madoff.

There is a massive, massive black hole in the pension fund. The Parliament's Bureau have tried to clamp down on this second pension, for example, stopping new people joining, prohibiting taking everything out in a lump sum, raising the retirement age etc, etc.

Helmer is one of the MEPs taking the parliament to court to get their highly lucrative trough filled at the taxpayers expense and demanded the right not to have their names revealed.

That's what Helmer is.
posted by quarsan at 8:19 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


The bottled water companies should just start putting IF YOU DO NOT HAVE WATER YOU WILL DIE SOON on the bottles.
posted by Flunkie at 8:24 AM on November 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


A bit lower, actually; the Daily Mail doesn't start Lysol ads with audio when you load its pages.

Wow, Internet + NoScript really is very different from Internet without NoScript.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:25 AM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've seen bottled water in the US that simply said "Thirst quencher!" I thought it was kind of ridiculous at the time but it does seem less problematic than "Prevents dehydration" or anything like that.
posted by bleep at 8:25 AM on November 20, 2011


The bottled water companies should just start putting IF YOU DO NOT HAVE WATER YOU WILL DIE SOON on the bottles.


And pork pie manufactures "WIZARD NEEDS FOOD BAD".
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:27 AM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


SOMEONE SHOT THE FOOD!
posted by hippybear at 8:29 AM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Skeptic: This is why it's so easy to bait bureaucracies: not because civil servants are dumb, but because they are (thankfully) obliged to follow rigid rules.

If your rules require you to do something stupid, you should probably revisit your rules, not do the stupid thing.

The crux of the problem here is summed up by the words "dehydration (the clinical, medical term) ..." And it makes sense to be picky about how a word like that is used on a product like Pedialyte, which is sold in the pharmacy for medical purposes. Bottled water is not a medical product. It's not sold in the pharmacy. And under circumstances it's often consumed, such as a hot envioronment or strenuous physical activity, it damn well does prevent dehydration.

This is just another instance of legal language departing radically from the vernacular. The screw-up is insisting that the label for a product most people would expect to be in the vernacular must be held to legal or medically precise standards. And then, for extra bonus stupid, insisting that this insistence will be backed up with prison sentences for those who disrespect its authoritah.
posted by localroger at 8:39 AM on November 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Good to see we're picking out the key issues vis-a-vis the EU.

srboisvert: not being English I grew up somewhere where there was no EU type organization

..so in this respect Birmingham UK is superior to Canada? Are you finally going native, or what?
posted by Segundus at 8:46 AM on November 20, 2011


Yes, as the EU moves to turn Greece and Italy into subservient colonies of Goldman Sachs, let's all worry about the labeling of water bottles.
posted by koeselitz at 8:56 AM on November 20, 2011


The EU has upsides, but any bureaucracy tends to show how correct something is often has no bearing on how absurd it sounds. When it does, I'd suspect the more complex a true statement is, the more likely it is to sound absurd.

"Water. If we filter dinosaur pee enough, you'll never know the difference!"

"What do Bruce Lee, Charlemagne, Jesus of Nazareth, and Genghis Khan have in common? They all drank water."

"100% of deceased people who did not drink water are dead."

"Sometimes, you just get tired of drinking the blood of your enemies."

"Water. You are what you drink. No, seriously, you're mostly water."

True note- I had to get a drink of water halfway through this.
posted by Saydur at 8:59 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course water hydrates. Dehydration however, is a medical term, precisely defined.

This would be like someone making a pez labeled 'cures depression', I mean, sure, pez makes people happy... But the specific medical claim is false, and would, like this misappropriation of a specific medical products labeling standards be subject to scrutiny, and likely, sanctioning.

Labeling a product with labels that currently hold medically useful terminology, and 'watering down' the meaning of such labels would lead to people believing they were using the medical product, if a non-medical product suddenly started using the terms from the medicated product... which is bottles of a liquid that carries specific properties and additives. Which are not in the soda companies bottled tap water product. People could die due to poor labeling practices.

It is not tyranny to avoid those casualties, why are these papers acting as outrage factories for the 'poor oppressed, silenced, multi-national soda companies'?

This is neither idiocracy, nor bureaucracy getting pranked. It is the triumph of accuracy, and precision over some forced conception of 'common sense'. Common sense is frequently a gloss on reality. Self labelled 'common sense', is usually a full on invented reality. Common sense says, 'it's chilly, so climate change is a liberal conspiracy to take our guns'. Common sense must be looked at through the lens of asking who benefits?

It makes a great deal of sense to have an informed consumer in a world where health care is the business of the state.

Pharmacies also sell 'dasani', without accurate labels, I might go for the far cheaper, non medical one, if both, based on the label, shared the specific properties of a medical product.

An advertisement like 'drink water or die' might actually pass, the ruling seems to be specifically relating to the encroachment on a particular medical niche term, which would lead to people who need to access the specific 'actual dehydration preventing' liquids, which created this ruling.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:00 AM on November 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


EFSA is a mess, but it is fundamentally doing the right thing. Several countries, including the US, are looking closely at how EFSA's activities are working with a view to following them.

Why is it a mess? Because the approval/rejection process takes far too long and EFSA has been overwhelmed by the level of applications. Because the regulations have come in before companies have had a chance to work out how to run clinical trials properly to yield the results EFSA requires to endorse a health claim. In short, because it is proving to be inordinately painful, and expensive for many companies to get health claims approval.

But there is nothing wrong with the process of requiring properly run clinical trials as the basis of any health claim, which is the principle upon which EFSA's article 13 and 14 claims are based. Prior to EFSA clamping down, the level of bullshit claims surrounding food and beverages was monstrous and grossly misleading to people buying the products involved.

And while companies are bellyaching now, many of the larger, better organised ones recognise the opportunities it presents. If the process is expensive, resource-intensive and complicated and narrows the field, it plays into the hands of companies better equipped to deal with it. On top of that, it presents them with all sorts of patenting opportunities too if they have to do the clinical work to develop an ingredient.

Industry watchers have banged on about food as medicine for years but EFSA is the brave new world in which pharma levels of scrutiny are being applied to the food industry. It's actually quite interesting where you think where it leads to.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


The US decrees that pizza is a vegetable and the EU bans the claim that water prevents dehydration.

Frankly, I would prefer my government choose the latter because there is at least some reason involved.
posted by MHPlost at 9:09 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the problem is rooted in the fact that 'dehydration' is a term that non-medical people use to describe the condition of not having enough water in their systems because they forgot to drink. I wonder what other medical terms have a common alternative meaning?
posted by fearnothing at 9:14 AM on November 20, 2011


Yeah, 'dehydration' is a medical term. I don't think I've ever felt dehydrated. I've felt thirsty, or that I've got a dry throat.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:21 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stories that prove how the majority of the world chooses to be stupid because it's just easier and more fun are the stories that make me the saddest. It's like my own little version of that one episode with Fry's dog.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:28 AM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Saydur :"100% of deceased people who did not drink water are dead."

Same for deceased people who did drink water.
posted by Gyan at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2011


EFSA was screwed no matter what the panel members did or said.
- The panel rejects the claim as invalid = STUPID EUROCRATS RULE THAT WATER IS NOT WET!!!!
- The panel accepts the claim as valid = USELESS EUROCRATS DISCOVER THAT WATER IS WET!!!
- The panel refuses to consider the claim at all = YOUR TAX MONEY AT WORK: EUROCRATS CAN'T DECIDE WHETHER WATER IS WET OR NOT!!!
It's a "When did you stop beating your wife?" situation. The only good answer would be some scathing remarks about food lobbies and industry lawyers, but they can't do that obviously.
posted by elgilito at 9:36 AM on November 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


This thread has not one, but two mangled Gauntlet quotes.
posted by chemoboy at 9:38 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was recently at a customer site and had to use the toilet. Mounted over the urinal was a helpful guide to spot checking your health based on the color of your pee. The bottom color chip, a rich deep yellow, was labeled "Dangerous dehydration -- drink 1 to 2 liters of water IMMEDIATELY."

I have worked in industry for 25 years and such signage is very common, because people who are working in a hot, dangeorus environment often don't feel thirsty because they're distracted by other dangers and the task at hand, but they do get dehydrated and every single sign I have ever seen warning of this danger (and they are common) says to drink water.

So while water might not prevent all types of dehydration, it very certainly does prevent one very common type for which actual medical literature says to drink water.

Maybe the label should say "prevents dehydration due to high temperatures and exertion," but again it's not being marketed in the pharmacy and everybody fucking knows that anyway.

So I stand by my opinion; the commission let legal language get in the way of a lable that should have been based on common usage, and got punked.
posted by localroger at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


SOMEONE SHOT THE FOOD!
posted by hippybear at 9:50 AM on November 20, 2011


Okay, make that one.
posted by chemoboy at 9:53 AM on November 20, 2011


koeselitz writes "Yes, as the EU moves to turn Greece and Italy into subservient colonies of Goldman Sachs, let's all worry about the labeling of water bottles."

Luckily the EU has more than a handful of employees. It is possible to tackle both issues without starving either for resources.
posted by Mitheral at 9:55 AM on November 20, 2011


the commission let legal language get in the way of a lable that should have been based on common usage

From the ruling: 'The Panel notes that dehydration was identified as the disease by the applicant. Dehydration is a condition of body water depletion. Upon request for clarification on the risk factor, the applicant proposed “water loss in tissues” or “reduced water content in tissues” as risk factors, the reduction of which was proposed to lead to a reduction of the risk of development of dehydration.' (emphasis mine)

If someone applies to make a medical claim, identifies that medical claim and provides further information to support that medical claim, the only way to deal with the claim is as a medical claim. How does the result of this unfortunate prank support your initial position that the EU is in contention for "dumbfuckest first-world government", whether in the world or extra-terrestrially?
posted by howfar at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well howfer, instead of robotically parsing the application they could have asked for a number of clarifying corrections.

First thing I notice, if you are getting all medical about it, is that dehydration isn't a disease. It's a symptom. "Water loss in tissues" isn't a risk factor, it is a description of the problem. And there are many common medically acknowledged situations where the advice is to drink water to prevent or treat dehydration. That is a medically true fact. The commission should have corrected the language of the clarification, which would make the whole thing much less ridiculous.

It's true that dehydration is also a symptom of other problems for which water isn't the cure. But that's like asking if it's okay to put "Aspirin reduces fever" on an Aspirin bottle. Obviously that's a primary use of the product, but there are some circumstances when fever is a symptom of a much more serious disease. If you have viral hemorraghic fever instead of the flu taking Aspirin to mask the symptom is about the worst thing you can do. But that's common sense, and nobody disputes that it is valid to say Aspirin reduces fever in enough common situations that it is a valid thing to put on the bottle.

When the end result of your process is stupid, it is not a triumph of your rational devotion to the process that you stuck with the result, it's a sign that your process is flawed. It really doesn't matter why you let yourself get put in the position of making such an aggressively counterfactual statement as "we will put you in jail if you make the bogus claim that your water can treat dehydration." If you get to that point you have a problem, and if you stick to your guns instead of admitting you have a problem you have a bigger problem.

tl;dr: I think mindless adherence to a process that makes you end up looking ridiculous is a pretty good example of dumbfuckery.
posted by localroger at 10:39 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Eh, some lawyers knowingly asked a stupid question; they got a stupid answer.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:58 AM on November 20, 2011


Selling bottled water shouldn't be legal in the first place.
posted by jwhite1979 at 11:15 AM on November 20, 2011


Selling bottled water shouldn't be legal in the first place.

Eh, I think it should be legal, but that the main label can only say "Water from XYZ Municipal System" unless it is actually directly from a spring or something.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:25 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn. It must be sorrowful to step in it in front of the whole world. And we thot our GOP 'candidates' were pathetic.

“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project paying fools too much money then this is it.”
posted by Twang at 12:11 PM on November 20, 2011


... that makes you end up looking ridiculous ...

Oh, I see why I wasn't understanding your posts. You see this as making the EU workers look ridiculous. I see them as dealing patiently with contentious idiots and the shocked news stories as people deliberately mis-interpreting facts for the purpose of sensationalism.

Your interpretation is probably the one that will win out.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:17 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I stand by my opinion; the commission let legal language get in the way of a lable that should have been based on common usage, and got punked.

Would it be ok for McDonalds to put "treats depression" on the side of a happy meal? Common usage of depression is feeling a bit sad, right? Instead of letting them use "dehydration", the mfgs should just continue to use "thirst", since that's what they're talking about.
posted by stavrogin at 12:22 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Busted.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:25 PM on November 20, 2011


stavrogin, while I have seen dozens of posters in industrial facilities advising me to drink water to prevent dehydration (NOT just to slake my thirst), and I've seen posters warning me to seek treatment for the symptoms of depression, I've never seen a poster advising me to get a Happy Meal if I feel depressed. That is probably indicative of why the water label is reasonable and your counterexample isn't.
posted by localroger at 12:48 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


stavrogin, while I have seen dozens of posters in industrial facilities advising me to drink water to prevent dehydration (NOT just to slake my thirst), and I've seen posters warning me to seek treatment for the symptoms of depression, I've never seen a poster advising me to get a Happy Meal if I feel depressed. That is probably indicative of why the water label is reasonable and your counterexample isn't.

You keep going back to these posters as evidence. All the EU is trying to establish here is that, as "dehydration" is a medical term - or, if you will, can be used as a medical term - bottled water manufacturers either need to tighten up the language about water and dehydration or not make any claims at all. Letting this one go opens the door for food manufacturers to make all kinds of claims. That's what's at issue here, and whether they "look ridiculous" should absolutely never, ever be the standard by which food regulations are decided.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:58 PM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Localroger wrote: The commission should have corrected the language of the clarification, which would make the whole thing much less ridiculous.


The commission cannot rewrite the terms of an application. And the application was written and submitted by top lawyers - they knew very well what they were doing. They were trying to embarrass the commission by making a medical claim that could be dishonestly said to be "common sense". I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that their firm had ties to sports drink manufacturers, who would be the obvious people to benefit from this.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:38 PM on November 20, 2011


Regularly drinking water will reduce the risk of dehydration.
Eating a pork pie every day will reduce the risk of starvation.
Being in a warm place will reduce the risk of hypothermia.
Jumping off a tall building may result in falling.
Joining the EU may increase the risk of exposure to incompetent bureaucracy.
posted by sfenders at 1:57 PM on November 20, 2011


I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that their firm had ties to sports drink manufacturers, who would be the obvious people to benefit from this.

Well, if it doesn't, it certainly ought to. Dr Moritz Hagen Mayer is a partner in Krohn, a German consumer law firm offering food law services - page here. Part of which is about advising on the claims companies can make about their products. They also offer Lobbyarbeit gegenüber Verbänden, Ministerien und internationalen Organisationen - which is exactly what it sounds like. I imagine this was done to communicate the message that EU food law was crazy, and in order to navigate it you'd need an expert food law firm. It is somewhere between a prank and a publicity stunt, paid for by the people of the European Union and lapped up by credulous Europhobes.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:02 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


> the rub seems to be that there is no scientific evidence to support the common sense.

Has anyone ever done any serious work on whether the Pope is Catholic? I mean, controlled experiments and stuff?
posted by jfuller at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Marisa: You keep going back to these posters as evidence.

That's because they are evidence of how the word dehydration is used and how water is advised to prevent it in a situation where there is a lot of liability law, much of it informed by actual medical personnel.

All the EU is trying to establish here is that, as "dehydration" is a medical term - or, if you will, can be used as a medical term

I have two problems with this ruling, or the process that created it:

1) While dehydration can be a medical term, it is also a common term, and unless the bottle of water is being sold in the pharmacy the latter usage should be used, and

2) There are common situations in which medical personnel do in fact advise water for what they describe as dehydration, so the ruling is factually wrong even on its own logic.

Joe in Australia: The commission cannot rewrite the terms of an application.

Then the application should have been rejected not because water doesn't prevent dehydration, but because dehydration is a symptom not a disease, absence of water in the tissues is a description of the symptom not a risk factor, and the language of the application doesn't make sense.

Or is this also a pure pass/fail system like the MPAA ratings in which they also don't explain why you got a NC-17? If so they deserve to be embarrassed. That would indeed be a very flawed system.
posted by localroger at 2:13 PM on November 20, 2011


1) While dehydration can be a medical term, it is also a common term

Yes, that's what I said. The language being used by bottled water manufacturers makes no such distinction, which leaves a lot of wiggle room for other food producers in the claims they make.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:21 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eh, the EU stuck it to drink manufacturers who are playing up the yuppie fear angle when selling drinks. They'd only put on water for now, five months later we'd see "Pepsi, refreshingly hydrating!" when (from what I can gather) it actually has a higher concentration of sugar, salt, and bullshit than your plasma/lymph/random pool of bodily fluids.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:23 PM on November 20, 2011


While dehydration can be a medical term, it is also a common term

The medical term and the common term are not somehow separate. Nobody here has presented the slightest evidence to disprove my naive assumption that they both mean precisely the same thing.

Sure there are cases or causes of dehydration that merely drinking water will not much help, though usually it would do some good even when for instance a saline solution would be better. I'm sure it is also possible in case of some weird medical complication to starve to death despite the fact you're eating well. Nonetheless, lack of food is still the leading cause of starvation, and thus it is sensible to suggest that eating can reduce the risk.
posted by sfenders at 2:43 PM on November 20, 2011


lack of food is still the leading cause of starvation, and thus it is sensible to suggest that eating can reduce the risk.
There's "starvation" and then there's starvation (Onion link). McDonald's making commercials showing healthy kids "suffering" from "starvation": this would be tacky but OK. McDonald's making health claims about alleviating actual starvation: definitely not OK. Also: windows manufacturers and asphyxia. Health claims are serious claims and whatever loopholes food companies are trying to use in order to deceive people should be closed with extreme prejudice.
posted by elgilito at 3:21 PM on November 20, 2011


I for one am overjoyed that what people claim in adverts has to be regulated across a whole continent. Frankly it is a mystery to me how the USA ever got along without this sort of top notch regulation to ensure no-one made spurious claims. Meanwhile, I note there are plenty of people practising homeopathy and similar quack medicines without intervention. Clearly this is a successful effort!

srboisvert highlights some good stuff the EU does - but from a British perspective, we are a massive net contributor to the EU. Highlighting refurbishing Birmingham buildings or research grants as positives of membership is like being happy if I take £1000 out of your bank account, but spend £200 of it repaving your drive...
posted by prentiz at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2011


I suggest people read the opinion. It looks as if the applicants purposedly doomed it by defining, as a "risk factor" of dehydration, the "loss of body water", that is, dehydration itself. The opinion also shows how there was a lengthy exchange of letters between the applicants, EFSA and the German food safety authority. The applicants were given ample opportunity to rectify, and they didn't.
This was an obvious stunt by a rather unscrupulous lawyer, and I must wonder whether the German bar shouldn't start disciplinary proceedings against this sort of costly publicity-seeking behaviour.
posted by Skeptic at 3:38 PM on November 20, 2011


This was an obvious stunt by a rather unscrupulous lawyer, and I must wonder whether the German bar shouldn't start disciplinary proceedings against this sort of costly publicity-seeking behaviour.--Skeptic

That's a pretty scary recommendation. Just by looking at the uproar I'd say there is come controversy considering how extensive these regulations go, whatever your opinion of what is right or wrong in this particular case. People should have the ability to challenge the regulations (even if the challenge is in the form of what you call a 'stunt') without fearing prosecution.
posted by eye of newt at 3:45 PM on November 20, 2011


Meanwhile, I note there are plenty of people practising homeopathy and similar quack medicines without intervention.

Actually, you may have missed it, but the introduction of (rather light) regulation of "traditional" herbal remedies produced yet another anti-EU shitstorm just last year. Much as I would like to see it, I can't imagine the sort of backlash that a science-based crackdown on homeopathy would cause.
And Britain isn't such a huge net contributor as some believe: even much smiller Holland contributes more.
posted by Skeptic at 3:49 PM on November 20, 2011


elgilito: McDonald's making health claims about alleviating actual starvation: definitely not OK. Also: windows manufacturers and asphyxia.

So by mentioning window manufacturing you mean to say that your lack of OKness with McDonalds' hypothetical claim is due to its implying that their "food" is somehow better at the job than all the other food that's floating in through everyone's windows? Is it actually implying that? I doubt it, but that some people might think so is at least a hint of some possible reason behind the madness that seems to have taken over theguardian and so many MeFites. Water though, it really is better than most liquids at preventing dehydration.

Skeptic: It looks as if the applicants purposedly doomed it by defining, as a "risk factor" of dehydration, the "loss of body water", that is, dehydration itself.

Maybe, but it's not clear to me how much of the silliness is due to the applicants and how much to The Panel stretching things a bit to find a technicality on which to deny the claim. Perhaps you can't say "reduced water content" is a risk factor, fine. You can't say "loss of water" is the risk factor, because drinking more water wouldn't actually reduce the rate at which it's being lost. You can't say "not drinking water" is the risk factor, because that makes even less sense. So if that's really the reasoning, how do you write the proposal to match that regulation?
posted by sfenders at 3:54 PM on November 20, 2011


Everyone is taking this one ruling and grinding it down to the smallest grains, but when I lift my head up and look at the last few years, over-regulation doesn't seem to have been the biggest threat my health and financial well-being.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:22 PM on November 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Water is the lifeblood of this planet, whose inhabitants are watching its accelerated spiral into crisis mode even as they struggle to address the issues and lifestyles that are stretching the earth's resources thin.

Outwardly, the global water crisis appears straightforward - people simply consume too much water. A key factor in this spiral is the fact that water has been morphing from a natural resource into a marketable - and costly - product, experts and reports have shown.

Exploring different aspects of the global water crisis, from privatisation of water to corporations marketing to minorities, reveals that water - as a human right, as a product, as a natural resource - is firmly entangled with a host of issues in areas, including public health.

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in areas with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world's population - projected to reach eight billion by then - will be under stress conditions. Some 1.4 billion currently lack access to safe water.

Humans consume water at a rate more than twice that of population growth, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In 60 percent of European cities with a population greater than 100,000, groundwater is used more quickly than it is replenished, said the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Yet even though humans consume more water than is sustainable, some would say that people do not drink enough water, and when they do, they're often being tricked into doing so.
Via
posted by infini at 4:33 PM on November 20, 2011


ShutterBun: I'm reminded of Bill Hicks:

"L.A. is a very confusing place, only place I know where you can have, simultaneously, a drought and a flood."


I'm reminded of why I've become less appreciative of Bill Hicks and his fans: they quote him as if he's speaking the gospel truth about anything and everything, when he was often just a comedian out for quick laffs. A drought is a long-term condition and a flood (while having long-term effects, sometimes severe) is a short-term condition, sometimes extremely so, hence the term "flash flood". They even have them in Texas, and if Hicks had had one-tenth of the knowledge of a real cowboy, instead of just liking to pose as one, he'd have known that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:27 PM on November 20, 2011


if Hicks had had one-tenth of the knowledge of a real cowboy, instead of just liking to pose as one ...

I've listened to a lot of Bill Hicks, but I think I must have missed those bits.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:23 PM on November 20, 2011


There's a concert film of Hicks in London, where he does a spoken-word intro that's heavily self-mythologizing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:58 PM on November 20, 2011


And Britain isn't such a huge net contributor as some believe: even much smiller Holland contributes more Do you mean by capita? Otherwise wikipedia has the UK making a net contribution of about double the Netherlands. I don't think £1000 per person per year (roughly the UK contribution) is small beer in anyone's money. You might think the cost is worth it, but let's not pretend it's not a lot of money.
posted by prentiz at 12:26 AM on November 21, 2011


I don't think £1000 per person per year (roughly the UK contribution) is small beer in anyone's money.

Actually, your link puts the UK net contribution at 937, that is, £ 800. And you should consider that a significant part of that money goes to foreign aid.

I'd also take the figures of "Open Europe", which Wikipedia cites, with a large grain of salt. Again, according to Wikipedia itself, it is "an influential eurosceptic think-tank and interest group, founded in London by some UK business people, with offices in London and Brussels".

HM Treasury's own figures put the UK's net contribution in 2008 (not per capita, total) behind not just the Netherlands' and (obviously) Germany's, but also distinctly behind France's and clearly behind Italy's (!).
posted by Skeptic at 1:03 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then the application should have been rejected not because water doesn't prevent dehydration, but because dehydration is a symptom not a disease, absence of water in the tissues is a description of the symptom not a risk factor, and the language of the application doesn't make sense.

So you agree with the decision, but find it aesthetically displeasing because time wasn't taken to reframe, clarify and refine a frivolous application? That's what we're arguing about? Your objection to a piece of bureaucracy is that it didn't waste enough time and money?

Words fail me.
posted by howfar at 1:09 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe, but it's not clear to me how much of the silliness is due to the applicants and how much to The Panel stretching things a bit to find a technicality on which to deny the claim.

Please, read the ruling. In it, EFSA sums up the whole procedure as follows:

STEPS TAKEN BY EFSA:
The application was received on 19/09/2008.
EFSA sent a request for clarification to the Competent Authority of Germany on 08/10/2008.
The Competent Authority of Germany provided its reply to EFSA on 26/03/2009.
The applicant sent a request for information to EFSA on 15/06/2009. EFSA provided a reply to the applicant on 21/07/2009.
The applicant sent a request for information to EFSA on 27/07/2009.
EFSA provided a reply to the applicant on 23/09/2009.
EFSA sent a request for information to the Competent Authority of Germany on 09/10/2009.
The applicant sent a request for information to EFSA on 15/10/2009.
EFSA provided a reply to the applicant on 23/11/2009.
The applicant sent a request for information to EFSA on 15/01/2010.
EFSA provided a reply to the applicant on 27/01/2010.
The Competent Authority of Germany provided its reply to EFSA on 10/02/2010.
EFSA sent a request for information to the Competent Authority of Germany on 21/04/2010.
The Competent Authority of Germany provided its reply to EFSA on 30/07/2010.
EFSA sent a request for information to the applicant on 01/10/2010.
The applicant provided a reply to EFSA on 27/10/2010.
The scientific evaluation procedure started on 15/11/2010.
EFSA informed the applicant about the start of the evaluation procedure on 17/11/2010.
During the meeting on 28 January 2011, the NDA Panel, after having evaluated the overall data submitted, adopted an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to water and reduced risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance.


EFSA clearly went above and beyond the call of duty in trying to clarify the "health claim". What interest did it have in denying this claim? Prof. Dr. Hagenmayer, on the other hand, is not a clueless layman, but a specialist lawyer who has published articles such as: "Surprisingly "cheap" Health Claims for Food Supplements - By Courtesy of EFSA". The title of the German version is even more explicit. It translates as: "The "secret" recipes of EFSA - Scientific evaluations open unexpectedly uncomplicated advertising possibilities for food supplements". And his co-author in those articles is none else than Prof. Dr. Hahn. These are two specialists who claim to be able to get even dubious health claims through EFSA, and they are stumped here?

We have a clear case of a law firm which purposedly introduced a ridiculous test case and sabotaged it in order to generate a few cheap headlines. Such a deliberate waste of public resources definitely looks like professional misconduct to me.
posted by Skeptic at 1:22 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dehydration due to diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five.

When parents try to treat this kind of dehydration with plain water, their children often die.
posted by straight at 2:43 AM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


EFSA clearly went above and beyond the call of duty in trying to clarify the "health claim".

There's only one "request for information to the applicant" in there, asking them exactly which risk factor in the development of dehydration water is claimed to reduce. The reply was apparently something like "the risk of water loss in tissues, leading to reduced water content in tissues". To me that does not sound at all like an attempt to sabotage the claim, although I suppose it's possible that it may have been. I'd need to see the actual response before accusing them of that.

They should've said instead that "ingesting water can reduce the risk that insufficient water will be absorbed by the body to mitigate water loss in tissues." If the point was to advertise the fact that you need a clever lawyer to get even the simplest claim through the process, they succeeded.

I couldn't find a copy of "Surprisingly "cheap" Health Claims for Food Supplements, but search did turn up this powerpoint-style pdf with the same title and Hagenmeyer's name on it. Apparently a summary for a conference presentation. The point of it is that it's too complicated to get a new health claim approved (according to the only scrap of text I found from the original article), so you're better off to just add to your product whatever vitamin is already proven to have the effect you want to claim. Not so nefarious as you seem to imply.
posted by sfenders at 2:52 AM on November 21, 2011


The point of it is that it's too complicated to get a new health claim approved (according to the only scrap of text I found from the original article), so you're better off to just add to your product whatever vitamin is already proven to have the effect you want to claim. Not so nefarious as you seem to imply.

Thanks for finding that presentation. Actually this offers another, quite nefarious, explanation to Hagenmayer's behaviour. Perhaps he didn't intend this as a stunt, but as serious attempt at getting a health claim approved that would allow sticking "prevents dehydration" to any product that contains water.
posted by Skeptic at 4:37 AM on November 21, 2011


What would be so nefarious about that? Assuming that the process is sufficiently rigorous as to prevent anyone making that claim for products that don't in fact help to prevent dehydration, e.g. due to the presence of other ingredients that have the opposite effect, what's wrong with saying that about any product that contains a sufficient amount of water? What's wrong with it that isn't wrong with advertising and marketing in general, that is. Though in many cases it might be nice to do so, preventing advertisers from making true claims is contrary to the intent of the regulations.

It's like infini's link above, where they're complaining that people are "tricked" into buying bottled water by images of mountain springs on the bottle. Well, they might as well be so tricked by an ad featuring pictures of smiling happy people consuming the product. This is the nature of the world we have created. If someone wants to advertise their high-energy (meaning lots of sugar) sports drink (meaning a drink where the marketing is aimed at people who enjoy sports) as being asbestos-free, it's not the proper function of the EFSA to stop them unless the claim is false.
posted by sfenders at 5:50 AM on November 21, 2011


Your position, sfenders, appears to be that it is a legitimate and true medical claim. In the spirit of this, the text of an approved claim should surely be along the lines of the information found on other medically efficacious products.

"Water can help prevent dehydration caused by lack of water. If symptoms persist consult your doctor" would cover it, allowing the true claim (liberal good), while preventing its misleading effect (consumer protection good).

I wonder what your reaction would be if EFSA (or anything else connected with the EU) had done this. No wait! I don't wonder at all.
posted by howfar at 6:18 AM on November 21, 2011


What would be so nefarious about that? Assuming that the process is sufficiently rigorous as to prevent anyone making that claim for products that don't in fact help to prevent dehydration, e.g. due to the presence of other ingredients that have the opposite effect, what's wrong with saying that about any product that contains a sufficient amount of water?

Well...that is actually specifically exactly what happened here, in this case, by this rigorous body... So, good outcome right?

As several have noted, bottled water, as 'cure all remedy', or medicalised product for "prevention" of "dehydration"... Is also a leading cause of death for this demographic. The water from a bottle itself. Not some list of 'bad additives'. So they recognized that the nuances of when, how, and why, and how much water ought to be administered for the medicalized treatment of a medical, narrowly defined condition.

You want to tell me it quenches my thirst like a sexy nuclear bomb exploding in my face...you could do that.

Thirst is not dehydration.

But the real story of water and interaction with dehydration is complex, convoluted, and confusing... To put such a medically misleading label on a product would be the height of irresponsibility...

This isn't a matter of 'extra' ingredients counteracting life giving water.... Water applied orally from a bottle can kill people who have specific medical conditions which would lead to a patient seeking a medical product that is specially formulated, and currently bears a label relating to the medical condition of dehydration.

Making the specific medical claim of any sort relating to the medical condition of dehydration... Would be liability central. And stupid, and pointless, and coopting medical terms.

Imagine.

I sell you a bottle of water, which claims to be a cure for a medical condition you have. You use my bottle, as directed by my label, and die. Why would the regulatory body certifying medical labels allow me to denigrate, and sully the weight and prestige of the regulatory body. My product, a consumer product, could kill, if applied as the hypothetical label suggests. Why are people arguing that this would be 'ok'? Can pharma companies just take lifesavers, and put them in a prescription bottle claiming they will "cure what ails you"?

The regulatory body would be found negligent, the water bottle company would be guilty of putting a demonstrably false medical claim statement on their product, and the stores selling bottled water that makes a medical claim, which is easily shown as 'dangerous' (to repeat, bottled water can cause the death, or cessation of life, when applied to a dehydrated person. And if that person is actually hypersaturated, but don't know... That is just quicker), trouble would flow when people started dying.

This was far from stupidity.
posted by infinite intimation at 6:38 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not misleading. It says "can reduce the risk of dehydration" and not "is a sure-fire cure for your case of dehydration". Good enough for the American NIH: "Dehydration can be caused by losing too much fluid, not drinking enough water or fluids, or both."

Water applied orally from a bottle can kill people who have specific medical conditions... conditions other than dehydration. Perhaps all water sold should come with a warning label.
posted by sfenders at 7:05 AM on November 21, 2011


That seems excessive, the specific medical claim context is the hang up, right, like levels of first aid training can alter duty of care, also, this is why, when medical claims are made, or advertised, there is increased attendant duty of care, and the 'field' becomes a medico-legal context, like I feel they should be calling this an anti snake oil finding.

A mom runs to the shoppe, her baby has been up all night, with diarrhea, she has an appointment for two o'clock with her doctor, for the fever symptoms that came and went for two days already, she sees the label, "Prevents Dehydration, EFSA".

She decides not to go to emerg.

Findings like this are important wind socks to the levels of credulity for 'common sense' in society. Officiated half truth can cause more harm than outright myths and stories or regulation.
posted by infinite intimation at 7:24 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


From straights link,
The World Health Organizations states that some home products can be used to treat and prevent dehydration. This includes salted rice water, salted yogurt drink, and salted vegetable or chicken soup. A home-made solution of one liter of plain water with 3 grams table salt and 18 grams common sugar can also be made. And a medium amount of salt can also be added to water in which cereal has been cooked, unsalted soup, green coconut water, unsweetened weak tea, and unsweetened fruit juice.

Commodity osmosis pure Bottled tap water need not really apply for that casting call. Again, treating gunshots and kidney stones with pez level of disingenuous application by the lawyer involved.
posted by infinite intimation at 7:36 AM on November 21, 2011


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