The dehydration and bottled water debacle

European Food Safety Authority

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There’s a story making the rounds on websites, some newspapers, and wire services like UPI saying that the EU has  banned any statement (such as on bottled water) that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.”

We’ve been so accustomed to seeing stupidity from government lately, that this seemed plausible. But it isn’t.

Here’s a link link to the actual ruling:

COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1170/2011 of 16 November 2011 refusing to authorise certain health claims made on foods and referring to the reduction of disease risk

There’s also a statement from EFSA clarifying the issue, they write:

Among those claims was a claim related to the role of water in the prevention of dehydration filed earlier this year by two German scientists. At the time, the claim had to be rejected by EFSA because it was filed under the wrong legal provision (Article 14 of Regulation 1924/​2006/​EC instead of Article 13). In short, Article 14 deals with diseases and illnesses whereas dehydration was not regarded by EFSA as a disease.

I’ve checked out these two pages and the rejection based on it being filed in the wrong context seems accurate. Thanks to Maurizio Morabito for pointing out the EFSA link.

A lot of people got taken in by the incorrect Newspaper and wire reports, and they continue to spread. Here’s Alec Rawls original story below.

Update: I’ve added Alec’s further comments below, claims and counterclaims leave this issue unresolved. – Anthony

Thanks to Anthony for including the EFSA response at the beginning of my post. Comparing the their “clarifications” with the actual ruling, however, I have to say that the Express reporting seems to be accurate, while the EFSA’s clarifications grossly misrepresent their ruling.

The clarification asserts that EFSA issued a pro-forma rejection of the proposed health claim on the grounds that dehydration is not recognized as a disease, leaving the implication that since no actual health claim was made, there would be no prohibition on making it. The ruling itself however, quite clearly does accept that dehydration IS a disease. Their actual grounds for rejecting the proposed claim was a bizarre assessment that the claim does not address a risk factor for the disease, but only a measure of the disease, and hence is not a valid claim about reduction of a risk factor.

This is incredibly stupid. Failure to drink enough water is not a risk factor for dehydration? Just to try to make this distinction is nonsensical enough, but then they get it wrong to boot, on the most trivially simple matter: can drinking water help prevent dehydration? Here are the key parts of the ruling:(1) Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 health claims made on foods are prohibited unless they are authorised by the Commission in accordance with that Regulation and included in a list of permitted claims.

(6) … the applicant proposed water loss in tissues or reduced water content in tissues as risk factors of dehydration. On the basis of the data presented, the Authority concluded in its opinion received by the Commission and the Member States on 16 February 2011 that the proposed risk factors are measures of water depletion and thus are measures of the disease. Accordingly, as a risk factor in the development of a disease is not shown to be reduced, the claim does not comply with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 and it should not be authorised.

They do declare the claim unauthorized, meaning disallowed, which would not be the case if they had ruled that it was not actually a health claim. So everything in the clarification is just a fraud. It seems they got embarassed when people noticed how stupid their ruling was and concocted a completely dishonest excuse.

Saturday not-so-funny: Europeans can now be imprisoned (2 yrs!) for claiming that water protects against dehydration

Guest post by Alec Rawls

“It took the 21 scientists on the panel three years of analysis into the link between water and dehydration to come to their extraordinary conclusion,” reports the UK Express. To be precise, the European Union has barred vendors from claiming that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.” Apparently there are some skeptics:


Perhaps a dictionary would have helped. Dehydration, from “hydor,” the Greek word for water, means to lose water, or suffer water deprivation.

“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are, highly paid, highly pensioned officials trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true,” says Conservative MEP Roger Helmer.

Wait a minute. How does an anti-science flat-earther like Helmer rate mainstream ink? Leave science to the scientists!


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William McClenney

I am not sure if there are an sadistics on this in the literature, but it stands to reason that some of this nonsense, and its generators, might get wiped out by an ice age. Fortunately one is due now.


But it must be true, there is a reported consensus, or did someone write what the scientists really meant? You know, something politically correct that needed a battalion of bureaucrats to enforce it no matter how stupid.


I thought this was a spoof, as I have a hard time believeing that anyone is this delussional.
I was WRONG.
And Europe wonders why it has problems?

My Goodness me. Anthony, have they really banned water vendors claiming enough water prevents dehydration. Of course it does! We can live without food for a while, but not water.

Interstellar Bill

Why not? They already imprison people for offending Muslimes, don’t they?

Green Sand

Why should anybody be surprised at the EU not knowing what water is?
They are of a differing species, no longer are they homo sapiens, wise and knowing man, no they have evolved into homo superbus, arrogant man.
They walk amongst you, well they do on this side of the pond. But take care, you are not safe the Atlantic is no protection they will develop the ability to walk upon that stuff that cannot hydrate you. You have been warned!


Water is extremely dangerous.


I think you’re being set up. There are some conditions where water will not protect against dehydration, either because it cannot be absorbed fast enough or because the water is eliminated too quickly. In those cases, intravenous saline solution is required. Make sure you get an accurate translation of the ruling. For example, “water prevents dehydration in most cases” might be alright under this ruling. In which case, this is the truth, and, nothing is lost. So, what is the actual ruling?


Maybe all those same ‘scientists’ who came up with this crap would like to test their results by not consuming liquids for a month.


They’re mad, and we’re madder for allowing it.
I’d suggest it’s too late for people over 30-35 years to fix this. But your kids can!
Please. please don’t let them fall under this irrational spell. Encourage thought, argument based on factual and actual outcomes. For their own sake!

This must be the stupidest post on WUWT. Do take it down at once!
And anybody believing a word from the Daily Express (apart from the day, month, year, perhaps) should be forced to listen to a complete reading of the Al Gore Omnibus. Twice.
The journalistic story is completely made up and the first clue should have been a lack of a link to the actual ruling (COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1170/2011 of 16 November 2011 refusing to authorise certain health claims made on foods and referring to the reduction of disease risk). I recommend also visiting a page clarifying what it was all about:

Among those claims was a claim related to the role of water in the prevention of dehydration filed earlier this year by two German scientists. At the time, the claim had to be rejected by EFSA because it was filed under the wrong legal provision (Article 14 of Regulation 1924/​2006/​EC instead of Article 13). In short, Article 14 deals with diseases and illnesses whereas dehydration was not regarded by EFSA as a disease.


At the very least, it’s a consequence of rule by lawyers. Far too many. However, there is some reason behind the decision. If you are dehydrated already, drinking water is a treatment, but it isn’t an instantaneous cure. You can drink water and still get dehydrated. If you expect to avoid possible heat stroke in harsh conditions just by drinking water, you are fooling yourself. That might be the only justification for the ruling. Do people actually expect to be perfectly protected? And why should the authorites threaten a 2-year prison sentence?
Extending the water – dehydration logic: Why do they let anyone outside in the Eurozone? It could be dangerous. Why don’t zippers come with warning labels? By the logic of the European regulators, toilets should be banned in Europe because Europeans could drown in one if they put their head in the water for too long. Sounds like the old wives’ tale domesticated turkeys drown if they look up while it’s raining, except the regulators apparently believe Europeans are a dumb as those birds. Perhaps more accurately, Eurozone authorities want Europeans to do as they are told and avoid thinking for themselves.


[ ” “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.” ]
[ Bolding mine ]
Can the EU prove that regular consumption of significant amounts of water cannot reduce the risk of development of dehydration?


“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart………..”
…………And the inmates are running the asylum


It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

“Stupid is as stupid does.”
“You can’t fix stupid.” – Forrest Gump


Methinks this story has been promoted by the French wine industry.


Well, I kinda liked the bent banana’s and cukes rule better, but they missed the nuclear boat on the bananas. They could have banned them because it’s a well known fact that straight bananas are much less radioactive than bent bananas. And, of course, bent cucumbers have a higher probability of causing seed inhalation and death by choking. 😉

But, of course as every bureaucrats must know, Dihydrogen Oxide can’t possible prevent dehydration. It’s a toxin!

Leon Brozyna

Also, remember that an excessive consumption of water can result in death.
Therefore, to be consistent in the application of the precautionary principle, the sale of water should be banned.
Common sense says that such an idea is looney, but this is the EU … anything’s possible there except sense, especially of the common variety. Now, if you want to speak of nonsense …


It took 21 scientists 3 years to come up with that?!?
I suppose in another 4-5 years they’ll find that water is not wet.

Gail Combs

This really ticks me off.
About three months ago I became seriously dehydrated because I forgot my 2 liter bottles of H2O and drank soda instead. I literally could not stand even though I consumed the same amount of “fluids” I normally do but it did not prevent dehydration. This is the first time in fifteen years of working outside in North Carolina that I had this happen and it was only about three hours @ 90F and not the 98-100F for 8 hours I often work.
These idiots need to come to the south in the USA and try telling people that water does not prevent dehydration. They would get laughed out of the room.


The press got something wrong? There’s a first.


They need reasons to justify their bloated EU budget. They read Atlas Shrugged and didn’t understand it as a warning; they used is as a blueprint.


About time somebody did something about that evil scourge dihydrogen monoxide.
I found the original docs here
And the regs they are talking about
Good Lord, what is with these people? Seriously, I have no clue how these people think anymore.

I’ve been telling people about this for years – it’s not CO2 we need to worry about, it’s the dreaded dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO).
For example, the following effects from DHMO have been recorded:
Dihydrogen monoxide:
– is the major component of acid rain.
– contributes to the “greenhouse effect”.
– may cause severe burns.
– is fatal if inhaled.
– contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
– accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
– may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
– has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.
Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
as an industrial solvent and coolant.
in nuclear power plants.
in the production of Styrofoam.
as a fire retardant.
in many forms of cruel animal research.
in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
as an additive in certain “junk-foods” and other food products.
It’s all true – I saw it on the internet at
So it’s no wonder that the EU calls this stuff unhealthy. There’s so much DHMO on the planet, we’re practically swimming in the stuff!


Actually, after contemplating this rule for a bit, it seems that the only way to obtain water once it goes into effect, is to harvest watermelons (pun intended).


Maurizio Morabito (omnologos) says:
November 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm
Thank You! 🙂


henrythethird says:
November 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm
Ha ha ha ha 🙂

Well you learn something every day, eh? I thought water was H20 Two molecules of Hydrogen and one of Oxygen. It comes from the sky or from underground aquifers, bores and wells. The latter can contain contaminants of course including bacteria. In severe cases of blood loss or dehydration, one does require a intravenous saline plus glucose. As I said Anthony, you learn something every day. Actually, I was told by a Chinese doctor, to drink 2 liters of H20 a day and take a pinch of rock or sea salt on my food. (Not table salt). Not coffee or soft drinks, although cordials mixed in it were acceptable. It cleans out the lymphatic system and the skin. Some years ago, one of the famous brands of bottled water, I think it was Perrier, but don’t quote me on that, was found to have something in it that was not considered too healthy. Personally although I do have a rain water tank, I won’t drink it. Mainly because long standing water tanks can be collect bacteria that can be quite harmful. (Bird droppings getting into the tank from the roof for example). And we did have a new 205 foot deep bore on our property, and it tasted terrible. You would have to dieing from thirst to consume it. It was heavily tainted with iron and limestone. Somewhere between the taste of caster oil and epsom salts. Now I feel thirsty, so long for now.


Aha…….after careful deliberation I know the root cause of this ruling.
There was no water offered to these 21 fellows who were/are so smart. After 16 hours of intense deliberation……(becoming dehydrated because to prove they are correct, they didn’t drink water)…….they decided that drinking water would NOT fix their condition.
And ya know? I don’t know if there is enough water in the world to fix stupid.


And that’s the reason I consume large quanties of beer. By the case it’s cheaper than individual bottles of water at the local 7-11 and it has nutritional value that keeps me fat in case of famine. On occasion it does give me headaches, though.


Interstellar Bill says:
November 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm
Why not? They already imprison people for offending Muslimes, don’t they?

One of the problems that we have, and a serious one at that, is our public discourse has become very uncivil. As always, you should ask yourself: WWJD? Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to a question regarding the identity of the “neighbour” which Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved.
Portraying a Samaritan in positive light would have come as a shock to Jesus’ audience.

Substitute ‘Muslim’ for ‘Samaritan’ and you will have your answer.

LOL. Maybe as some people have said before, one can get to a nation by putting something in their water supply. Anyone suggest what they might have put in the Eurozone’s water? I remember one bottled water firm, were had up for fraud, they were selling miracle water, and it was found they were getting it from the tap. Anyone seen that hilarious film ‘Water’ with Michael Caine and Billy Connolly. They found something better than oil on this far flung British dominion in the South Seas. A water that had a laxative effect. Sold millions.

Well in some places Jesse, consuming beer is better than consuming their tap water. (Unless you boil the b out of it). True. LOL. I interviewed our local water resources official once, and people were complaining that floride and chlorine was being added to their water supply. He told me,
our water is healthy. Most of the worst human afflictions and health problems are water borne.
That’s why I prefer treated water to rain water.

Good one Alec. If it is bleedin’ hot or one is running long distances, H20 plus some other additives help keep you body’s metabolism stable. Without the body consuming itself to keep going. Anyway, this EU is consuming itself by collapsing while not advertising how stupid they are on so called climate change, carbon credits, and clean energy. Plague on both their houses, eh?

Rob Potter

I have read too many regulations around food and especially health claims and this is actually a sensible rule. If you wish to make any health related claim on a product, you have to be able to back it up with sufficient proofs. You can advertise all you like, but a health claim (defined whichever way they want) has to to have proof.
Now, it might sound simple to prove that your bottled water “cures” dehydration, but having been involved in a few too many of these cases, I can assure you that such proofs (to the satisfaction of regulatory agencies) are not trivial. Furthermore, while it might also sound silly to prevent such a claim on a bottle of water, at which stage do you allow claims because they are “obvious”? There is no such thing as “obvious” and therefore if you want to make a claim you have to back it up with the data as required.


Henry III provides a very biassed view of what he calls “DHMO” or “dihydrogen monoxide”. To begin with this name is extremely misleading, calling to mind the toxic gas carbon monoxide, while misrepresenting its chemical structure. In reality the neutral name “hydrogen hydroxide” is to be preferred.
As to his claims, while most are true they greatly distort the facts. Hydrogen hydroxide is the major part of acid rain, but serves to dilute the acidification somewhat (although pure hydrogen hydroxide, with a pH of 7, can never completely eliminate acidification on its own). In its gaseous form, it is indeed the major greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, but without it cloudformation and therefore the rain that irrigates our crops would be completely impossible; it is in that regard a double-edged sword.
In order to cause severe burns, hydrogen hydroxide needs to be heated; at room temperature it is no more dangerouse than milk or vegetable oil and very probably less dangerous when consumed in ordinary quantaties. In fact, due to its lower boiling point and our skins natural tendency to let it fall off it is ordinarily less dangerous than heated oil.
His claim that it is “fatal if inhaled” is perhaps the worst of the lot. In its gaseous form, most people inhale it daily to no ill effect; it is, much like carbon dioxide, ignored by our lungs. Inhaling pure gaseous hydrogen hydroxide might make it difficult to obtain the necessary quantities of oxygen, but there are already regulations mandating minimum quantities of oxygen and other necessary gases in working conditions, and there is no known natural environment on Earth consisting of pure gaseous hydrogen hydroxide.
In its liquid form, it is fatal to “inhale”; but any liquid is, include benign household liquids such as vegetable oil (perhaps the most common liquid contaning no hydrogen hydroxide in most people’s kitchens). It is not the liquid hydrogen hydroxide per se that is the problem, but the absence of gaseous oxygen. We all know we need to breathe air, not solids or liquids, so this is a furphy.
As for his other claims, they’re also quite bizarre. For instance, oxygen is the element which actually causes corrosion, yet no-one would claim we should ban oxygen from the atmosphere; the very notion is ludicrous.
WUWT should know better than to publish such cherry-picked nonsense. If it is to retain any credibility, it must delete it at once.

commieRob: Point taken, however, many claims on food and drinks do have to be taken with a pinch of salt. (Pun). False advertising is one and this is what that announcement was all about. Dehydration can be acute or chronic, for example if you suffer gastric problems such as Cholera, you die from dehydration in the end, unless you replace the fluids lost. It has to be done intravenously, not by mouth. (You may not be able to keep even water down by mouth?) I think this announcement is a bit of a knee jerk. A child with uncontrolled diabetes, type 1, will have a tremendous unusual thirst, because his/her kidneys work overtime to expel the increased glucose in their blood stream, and the body is literally starving to death because of the lack of insulin. The causation factor of dehydration can’t be cured sometimes by just drinking water, however, it can avoid it in hot weather when you sweat and breath out too much fluids in comparison with your intake. Maybe in someways, the manufacturers, should just state, ‘make sure you drink water in very hot weather or after excessive exercise to avoid dehydration’. And not make it a cure all for all cases of dehydration, that might need urgent medical attention.

Richards in Vancouver

Please be careful here, friends. Sure, the overwhelming consensus of scholarly opinion is that water is not harmful, indeed that it is necessary. The science is settled on that point. The argument is over.
But is it really? Remember, we’ve all battled against “overwhelming consensus”, “the science is settled”, and “the argument is over”. Yet as I read your comments, you’re all using those very same arguments, the arguments you have previously claimed were not scientific. Where has your proper scientific skepticism fled?
A small but courageous minority have long inveighed against the dangers, even the lethality of water. The first such researcher I know of is from the 1930s, the great Dr. William C. Dukenfield. After his great discovery he never drank water again, yet lived on to a happy old age.
Many of us have followed where he has led. Go ahead: Google him. But prepare to be enlightened.
And must I say it? Shame on you all for using the same arguments against these valiant, stalwart few that have been for so many years used against you. Do we never learn?

Herman Van Rompuy

DHMO creates the most prevalent and potent of all greenhouse gases. It can be fatal on overdose and contributes to a large proportion of accidental deaths. Strict government controls are clearly necessary and this dangerous substance should clearly not be used except under medical supervision.
Can you imagine what could happen if a small child gets his or her hands on this lethal chemical?
I am therefore sponsoring bold legislation to make DHMO a controlled substance available only by prescription. The manufacture, synthesis, extraction, collection, distribution, sale, or possession of unlicensed quantities in excess of 1 milligram of DHMO will carry serious criminal penalties.
I accept that we may see a slight uptick in the number of dehydration cases admitted to our emergency rooms but that would be a small price to pay to rid our streets of this exceedingly harmful chemical compound.
A new European Agency will be funded to regulate DHMO distribution and track the consumption of all such material. Citizens will be required to attend special DHMO testing centers weekly where blood or urine samples will be screened for traces of unlicensed DHMO.


bushbunny says:
November 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm

…you suffer gastric problems such as Cholera, you die from dehydration in the end, unless you replace the fluids lost. It has to be done intravenously, not by mouth

This is incorrect. The primary treatment for cholera is oral rehydration using a mixture of boiled or distilled water, salts, potassium, and sugar. Intravenous solutions are for severe cases of dehydration, usually because of delayed treatment or severe cases of vomiting. Gatorade works well too if you add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to it.


How dare companies use spin to advertise products.The only entity allowed to do that is the government.
All the big claims made about wind and solar,no restrictions on what the manufacterers of these products can claim.

Martin Clauss

Richards in Vancouver at 9:24 pm . .
W C Dukenfields – I looked him up , and sure was enlightened . . .! 🙂
He must be oustanding in his FIELDS . . especially when using his initials W. C. !

Scott D. My son as an infant got some terrible gastric upset passing blood. I had to give him fluid by the teaspoon, no bottled milk, and lemonade with sugar in it to disperse the bubbles. If he drank it too quickly he’d vomit it up. Worrying time, sunken eyes, etc. He wasn’t on solid food for
10 days. Probably contributed to him developing diabetes 15 months later. The cholera treatment was told to me, by a nurse a Captain in the QA’s. Mind you, this was 45 years ago in Malaysia. Because Cholera generally comes from contaminated water and food. But they have to get to hospital quick. And treatment is by intravenous eventually if they can’t hold down fluids.


Actually, everyone seems to have got the story quite wrong. First, the Europeans are promoting the drinking of water in large amounts on health grounds:
In its scientific opinion on Dietary Reference Values for Water dated March 2010, EFSA stated that “Water is essential for practically all functions of the body…” and that … “A water intake which balances losses and thereby assures adequate hydration of body tissues is essential for health and life”. EFSA recommends a total water intake of 2.0 litres a day for adult women and 2.5 litres a day for adult men, under moderate conditions of activity and temperature.
This is terrible advice. There is no reason whatever to think that for the normal adult male in normal European temperatures and at moderate levels of physical activity should rink 2.5 liters of water a day. The result would be hyponatremia.
This recommendation is nothing more than a sell out to the bottled water lobby, which in turn is largely owned by soft drink conglomerates.
It is in fact entirely reasonable to ban advertising or promotional material which claims that excessive consumption of water is healthy or is necessary to preserve health or prevent an imaginary condition called ‘dehydration’. Of course there is such a thing as dehydration – it occurs in people genuinely deprived of adequate water or those with illnesses such as cholera which lead to excessive fluid loss and inability to replace orally.
But the idea that we are all in Western Europe, summer and winter alike, threatened with this condition if we do not drink 2+ liters a day, day in and day out, is complete hysteria and superstition, and to promote bottled water with such claims is fraudulent.
I will close by pointing out something serious which has occurred as a result of this insane myth. What do people die of when running marathons in hot weather? Dehydration, you probably think. Wrong. They die of drinking too much water. The reason is they get into hyponatremia, a condition in which the body’s salts are too diluted, because of having drunk too much water without salts in it.
The water drinking mania is an example of the hysterical health fads, often the results of marketing campaigns by Big Food or Big Drink, which have no basis in science or commonsense or experience. Fortunately almost no-one but a few total obsessives really tries to keep drinking this much water.
The correct prescription is simple: when you are hungry, eat. When you are tired, sleep. When you are thirsty, drink. And no, you do not need to drink several liters a day to avoid getting thirsty, and no, when you feel thirsty it is not too late. Any more than you should quickly go down to MacDonalds before you feel hungry in case you fall into a dreaded condition called malnutrition. Which is a real medical condition, and the result of not eating enough of the right things, but not something anyone in Western Europe needs to guard against by eating when not hungry.