DUBAI // Consumer have been urged not to panic after bottled water was taken off shelves for showing unacceptable levels of a suspected cancer-causing chemical.
The food-safety regulator ordered three brands of water to be recalled.
"People should ensure the production dates we mention are avoided," said Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, the director of communications and community service at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA).
"Other production dates are safe to use. We don't need to panic. It is our job to ensure the safety of consumers."
His comments follow recalls last month of 500ml bottles of Masafi that were produced on February 17, a batch of five-gallon bottles of Sana Mineral Water produced on February 25, and a batch of five-gallon bottles of Arabian Pure Drinking Water produced on February 12.
Samples of the water had levels of bromate, a compound that can form during water purification, that were higher than the 10 micrograms a litre specified by the Gulf Standardisation Organisation.
The ADFCA said it was not a cause for concern that all three brands were recalled at about the same time. "It is a coincidence that they have this common problem suddenly," said Mr Al Reyaysa. It was only the second time the authority had found high bromate levels.
The ADFCA had ordered the withdrawal from shelves of the Omani Salsabeel brand of mineral water made on November 17, 2009.
In 2006, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) announced it was working towards "freeing drinking water of high levels of bromate, a chemical thought to cause cancer in humans".
Then, the levels were found to be 10 times higher than those permitted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
At the time, ADWEA said it had "instituted plans to reduce the level of bromate to the WHO standard of 10 parts per billion, after levels in Abu Dhabi plants were reported at up to 100 parts per billion".
The ADFCA said yesterday that the issue had been resolved.
Mr Al Reyaysa said bromate could also form during the cleaning of bottles or while transporting water in high temperature.
"We take random samples from supermarkets after the bottles have reached them," he said.
Dubai Municipality said it also conducted tests every day on samples of bottled drinking water.
"Some samples are received through consumers or water-filling factories," said Maha Al Hajri, the head of the municipality's Food and Environment Laboratory.