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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Water for Health update and briefing December 2007
Article Type: Food Facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 38, Issue 3.
A recent Water for Health update in December 2007 included the following:
Promoting tap water in public spaces. The Water for Health Alliance keeps working together to research the barriers to good public hydration, and to knock them down. An innovation working group of water companies and a manufacturer have now directly challenged the lack of suitable equipment available to provide consumers with the option of fresh tap water when out and about. Following a series of project meetings, the demonstration cooler (in full Welsh Water livery) is now fitted and working at Water UK's offices. It launches a design principle that can be used in airports, railway stations, shopping centres and other public buildings. The tap water fed coolers aim to reduce environmental packaging waste and improve health choices for consumers. They can either be set to free vend water, dispense sports bottles, or ethically vend tap water to raise funds for charitable causes. The manufacturing contact for the unit is Nick Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
Water in the workplace campaign increases. Unison has continued to develop its commitment to the Water for Health Alliance, by increasing its promotion of the Water@Work hydration initiative. Further stakeholders and water companies have now joined their effort to ensure that workers have access to fresh drinking water throughout their day, and the project has just been endorsed by the Environment Minister, Phill Woolas. Essex and Suffolk Water and Anglian Water became the latest water companies to host regional launches of the initiative.
Water in hospitals. Following its activity to promote the availability and good presentation of drinking water to patients in hospital, Water for Health Alliance members The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has seen their hydration website become the number Google UK search resource (as a search result on Google for the title "hospital hydration"). The Hospital Hydration Best Practice toolkit is available to health professionals as an online resource and was developed through partnership working with nurses, patient groups and key stakeholders. The National Patient Safety Agency, the RCN, Water UK, Patients Association, The Hospital Caterers Association and NHS Supply Chain are working together to encourage hydration best practice in the hospital environment. Following the first phase launch of the toolkit, the team are now working together to ensure that hydration awareness becomes a standard part of the nursing day.www.rcn.org.uk/newsevents/campaigns/nutritionnow/tools_and_resources/hydration
Protection for older people. The Minister for Social Care, Ivan Lewis, has published a Nutrition Action Plan which has been built in conjunction with Water UK and more than 25 other leading stakeholders. It outlines a range of actions that aim to tackle malnutrition (including water related malnutrition) and ensure that the nutritional needs of older people in hospitals and care homes are better met. Age Concern's Director General, Gordon Lishman, has agreed to oversee the delivery of the action plan and ensure it makes a real difference in care homes and hospitals throughout the country. Water UK and members of the Water for Health Alliance have been very active in supporting the Ministers objectives and making sure that progress is made in building resources.www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/DH_4067943
Hydration Health policy changes. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) team has acted on the views expressed by the Water for Health Alliance regarding hydration. The recent publication of the FSA Nutrient and Food-based Guidance for Older People and Adults 19-74 years has now been amended to include advice regarding appropriate consumption of fluids (on the website and in literature). The FSA has also decided to be more explicit in their guidance for both older people in residential care and adults in major institutions. In coordination with the Department of Health, they now advise "In temperate climates, such as the UK, the UK Government advises that 6-8 glasses (about 1.2litres) of water, or other fluids, should be consumed every day to prevent dehydration". This amount should be increased when the weather is warm or when exercising. Those providing food and drink throughout the day for older people in residential care should ensure that water and other forms of fluid are freely available throughout the whole day. Residents who have difficulty in drinking should be supported in getting a good fluid intake". Both of the amended documents can be viewed by accessing the web link below. Our thanks go to the FSA team for their help and support. www.food.gov.uk/healthiereating/nutritioncommunity/pubinstguide
Public access to tap water in restaurants. The National Consumer Council has published new research in which it has said that British consumers are fed up with paying over the odds for mineral water, when going out for a meal. The research indicates that nine out of every ten restaurants push consumers to buy expensive bottled water and fail to offer them free tap water. The face-to-face omnibus survey revealed that 70 per cent of people say the price of mineral water in restaurants is "too expensive" and want to see free tap water readily available. The report shows how, despite mineral water being seen as a rip-off, one in five people are "slightly nervous" or "too scared to ask" for tap water.
Tap water taste beats the bottle. Tap water has again been proven to be amongst the best drinking waters in the world by a panel of experts including wine critics and top sommeliers. The latest blind taste tastes are featured across daily newspapers, and show that Thames Water (drawn straight from the tap) was the equal third best of 24 different waters. Volvic came in the bottom five, with filtered water receiving almost the lowest score. The wine critic for the Independent nominated tap water as the one he thought was the most expensive, and Terry Threlfall, sommelier at the Michelin star restaurant, Chez Bruce, picked it as his favourite taste.
Tap water quality. Consumers can feel safe that UK tap water meets stringent testing standards, and is at record quality levels. Recent media stories aimed at fund raising for researchers, have unfortunately tried to link environmental water pollution to UK drinking water supplies. Drinking water quality is however strictly monitored and enforced by the three UK drinking water regulators, DWI, DWQR and DWI-Northern Ireland. UK tap water remains one of the highest quality waters in the world, and is available to its UK consumers at around 50 glasses for a penny.
Reducing environmental waste. The Green Party are calling for people to make a stand for the environment by rejecting the social pressure which leads to them ordering bottled water rather than asking for perfectly good tap water. Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly, has warned of what she perceives as the "the damaging ecological impact of bottled water".