DEP issues recall for locally bottled water with E. Coli bacteria
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a recall this weekend for thousands of large bottles of water produced by a Plum-based company.
Routine testing by the Allegheny County Health Department found total coliform and E. coli bacteria in three-, four- and five-gallon bottles of Tyler Mountain Water, which is bottled and delivered by Plum-based Aqua Filter Fresh, said DEP spokesman John Poister.
The water, which is usually delivered and used in free-standing water coolers, was bottled April 17 and 18, when the company's ultraviolet disinfecting system was malfunctioning, Poister said.
“It's either sitting in a closet somewhere, waiting to be put on a machine, or already on a machine,” Poister said.
About half of the 9,400 affected water bottles were still in Aqua Filter Fresh's stockpiles at the plant when officials discovered the contamination, but the rest had been delivered to customers, said David Mashek of Meinert/Mashek Communications, speaking for Aqua Filter Fresh.
Aqua Filter Fresh determined the water subjected to the recall had been delivered to about 95 customers served by the company's distribution facility in Fairmont, W.Va. Mashek did not know thelocation of those customers, but said the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services has been notified.
“We have contacted the appropriate state agency regarding those deliveries, as well as the customers involved to ensure the water is retrieved and replaced with a new supply,” he said.
It was unknown how the E. coli bacteria got into Aqua Filter Fresh's water supply, Poister said. Aqua Filter Fresh declined to discuss where it gets its water, Mashek said.
The company disputed that the UV system was malfunctioning at the time of the contamination but did not offer an explanation as to how it occurred, he said.
Total coliforms include bacteria found in the soil, in water that has been influenced by surface water and in human or animal waste that generally are not harmful to humans. An exception is E. coli, which indicates contamination by human or animal waste.
E. coli can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms, and can be a higher health risk for infants, young children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.
“Protection of the public health is our top concern,” read a statement from Tyler Mountain. “We are continuing to remain in contact with these affected customers to pick up and replace those questionable deliveries promptly.”
Allegheny County Health Department spokesman Guillermo Cole said that the department routinely tests the water, and no one had reported being sick.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can bereached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.