about drinking water described as Zam Zam
As Muslims observe Ramadan,
the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is reminding people to avoid drinking bottled
water described or labelled as Zam Zam water. This is because tests have shown
such water sold in the UK, or brought into the UK as a personal import, to
contain high levels of arsenic or nitrates.
Zam Zam water is sacred to
Muslims and comes from a specific source in Saudi Arabia. The FSA has consulted
on this issue with its Muslim Organisations Working Group (comprising
representatives from Muslim community groups and companies involved with the
production of halal food) which advises the Agency on foods appropriate for
Muslim faith groups.
Under Saudi law Zam Zam water cannot legally be
exported for commercial sale. Any water on sale that is labelled as Zam Zam in
the UK is therefore of uncertain origin. Muslims need to be aware of the health
risks associated with drinking this water.
Tests carried out on water
described as Zam Zam in the UK over the past few years, including water brought
into the country as a personal import, have indicated the presence of arsenic at
almost three times the legal limit.
This could contribute to increasing
people’s risk of cancer. People should consider avoiding drinking any water
described as Zam Zam as there is no completely safe level of arsenic in water -
the more arsenic consumed the greater the risk. However, if anyone has
occasionally drunk small amounts of such water the risk to health for adults and
older children would be very low.
Infants may also be sensitive to the
level of nitrate present so we do not recommend that they are given the water to
If consumers find any water on sale that is labelled as Zam
Zam, they should contact the local authority enforcement office at their local
council so they can investigate