Walmart and Target Remove Arsenic Water From Shelves, Whole Foods is Still Selling It

June 26, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Whole Foods refuses to remove Starkey spring water from shelves after tests show arsenic levels above FDA limits. Here’s the Consumer Reports’ list of bottled water brands to avoid:

The non-profit Center for Environmental Health sent legal notices to both Whole Foods and Dr. Pepper on June 18, warning that their bottled water brands had arsenic levels that require a health warning in California.

Since then, Dr. Pepper has pulled its Peñafiel spring water from the shelves of Walmart and Target, but Whole Foods is still defending its brand, Starkey spring water.

While the Center for Environmental Health didn’t specify how much the arsenic levels exceeded California state limits in its most recent independent tests, earlier tests by Consumer Reports found both brands exceeded limits set by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

While the FDA allows arsenic levels of up to 10 parts per billion in bottled water, Consumer Reports argues that limit should be reduced to 3 PPB, citing studies higher rates of lung, bladder and skin cancer, cardiovascular disease, adverse birth outcomes, illness in infants, and lower IQ at levels far lower than 10 PPB.

Additionally, the FDA inconsistently allows levels of only 5 PPB in tap water.

In April, Consumer Reports found arsenic levels of 17 PPB in Peñafiel spring water and 10.1 PPB in Starkey spring water, both exceeding the lax federal limit.

Arsenic—found naturally in soil, minerals, air, and plants—enters water by way of eroding rocks and minerals, urban runoff, pesticides, and municipal waste disposal.

The levels found in drinking water supplies can change at any  time depending on the above factors.

This is not the first time arsenic levels have exceeded the federal limit in Whole Foods’ Starkey brand water.

The company issued a recall in 2015 after regulators found arsenic levels of 11.7 PPB, and another in 2016 for a sample containing 12 PPB.

Dr. Pepper’s Peñafiel has been on the FDA’s import alert list since 2015, with several recalls for arsenic levels as high as 22 PPB.

Dr. Pepper says it is handling the problem with enhanced filtration systems. Whole Foods is still in denial there is a problem:

“Beyond the required annual testing by an FDA certified lab, we have an accredited third-party lab test every production run of water before it is sold, and our test results from the same lot analyzed by Consumer Reports show that these products are fully compliant with FDA standards for heavy metals,” a Whole Foods spokesperson wrote in an email to NBC News. “We would never sell products that do not meet FDA requirements.”

In total, Consumer Reports identified six brands, out of 130 tested, with levels of arsenic higher than its recommended limit of 3 PPB:

Starkey (Whole Foods)

Peñafiel (Dr Pepper)

Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water

Volvic (Danone)

Crystal Creamery


Here are some better options: