The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), a major bottled water industry group, requires its members to have PFAS levels below 5 ppt for any single PFAS compound and 10 ppt for more than one, and some scientists believe a limit of 1 ppt for total PFAS would be more appropriate.
In response to CR’s findings in the fall, Topo Chico said that it would “continue to make improvements to prepare for more stringent standards in the future.”
Last month, in response to an inquiry about Topo Chico’s comparatively higher levels of PFAS, the company said it had upgraded its filtration system “to ensure the continued safety and quality of Topo Chico into the future.”
Topo Chico has built a cult following over the years, spurring headlines such as 6 Reasons Why People Are Obsessed with Topo Chico on AllRecipes.com. The online publication Mic even went so far as to talk to scientists about why some people love its tastes. Coca-Cola saw the brand’s potential and paid $220 million to buy U.S. rights in 2017.
Since then, Topo Chico’s growth has continued. Its sales jumped nearly 40 percent in the 12-month period ending in May 2020, according to Beverage Industry, a trade publication, to almost $184 million in sales, making it one of the fastest-growing brands in the industry.
When CR’s first PFAS testing was released, Peter Attia, a doctor and podcaster, wrote a lengthy discussion of its implications, specifically for his Topo Chico consumption. “If you know anything about me, you probably know how much I love Topo Chico,” he wrote. “I drink it almost every day. Sometimes even a couple of bottles. I might as well bathe in the stuff.”
As CR routinely does when it learns a company has made a significant change to its product, we purchased and tested three new samples of Topo Chico Mineral Water and found that the brand had reduced its average level of PFAS to 3.9 ppt.
Though the result still puts Topo Chico among the brands with the most PFAS in CR’s study, the company’s effort to address PFAS contamination in its product is a step in the right direction, says Brian Ronholm, CR’s director of food policy.
“This demonstrates that bottled water manufacturers are more than capable of reducing consumer exposure to PFAS to a significant degree,” Ronholm says.
In response to questions from CR, a Coca-Cola spokesperson said the safety and quality of the company’s products is “always our top priority.”
“While our products tested below all drinking water limits for PFAS and other criteria currently set by U.S. federal and state regulatory agencies, we continue to make improvements to prepare for more stringent standards in the future,” the spokesperson said.