What is clear, wet, and contains “concerning levels” of arsenic? Whole Foods’ bottled water, apparently.
Consumer Reports conducted testing on 45 different brands of bottled water. All but one brand tested 3 parts per billion (more on that in a second). The odd duck was Whole Foods’ Starkey Spring Water. Out of four samples, Starkey’s arsenic levels ranged from 9.48 to 9.86 parts per billion of arsenic. The fourth registered at 10.1 parts per billion.
So what does that mean?
Technically the water is still safe to drink. The Food & Drug Administration limits arsenic levels to 10 parts per billion in drinking water. These thresholds are generally set very conservatively. So drinking Starkey water with even the highest levels probably isn’t going to hurt you. (It’s similar to the allowed levels of pesticide residue; check out the pesticide calculator to make sense of it.)
But I think it’s ironic that Whole Foods’ bottled water has the highest levels of arsenic. The water retails for $1.99 a bottle. It comes with all the smugness we’ve come to expect from Whole Foods. Its groceries are superior to other stores. Its store cares more about sourcing food. Its higher prices mean safer, better, and more nutritious.
As I once told Chipotle, those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Don’t use farmers and our production methods as a punching bag. Don’t throw family farmers under the bus to bolster your bottom line. And, for cripe’s sake, if you’re going to do that, your operation better be spotless.
Whole Foods has messed up a few times. (Don’t forget this time and this time.) It happens to everyone. Yet not everyone chooses superiority as a marketing theme. If you do, I’m going to make sure people know about your screw ups.