'Arf Arf' ... or Is It 'Barf Barf'?

Beverage company unveils bottled water for dogs

Last week Cott Corp., a Florida-based beverage retailer, sent out a press release touting its latest product: bottled water for dogs. No, we're not pulling your tail. Fortifido will capitalize on "the growing trends in the $40 billion pet industry," reads the release, which doesn't mention that the company will also be tapping into the bloated, multibillion-dollar bottled water industry.

Not unlike the typical marketing strategy for regular bottled water, Cott pitches Fortifido as a healthy beverage choice. "Dogs are more than just pets, they are part of the family and owners want to make the same healthy choices for their pets as they make for their kids or other loved ones," said Dave Vautrin, Cott's vice president of marketing and innovation, in the release.

But who says tap water isn't just as healthy – if not healthier – as bottled water? Accord­ing to a May 2007 report by D.C.-based nonprofit the Worldwatch Institute: "In the United States, regulations concerning bottled water are generally the same as for tap water, but are weaker for some microbial contaminants. The U.S. Food and Drug Admini­stra­tion, which regulates bottled water at the federal level, permits the product to contain certain levels of fecal matter, whereas the Environmental Protection Agency does not allow any human waste in city tap water."

The report also points out that bottled water is bad for the environment: "Millions of tons of oil-derived plastics, mostly polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are used to make the water bottles, most of which are not recycled. Each year, about 2 million tons of PET bottles end up in landfills in the United States."

However, there are much bigger questions at issue here than "Is bottled water healthier than tap water?": Among others, if humans drink Fortifido, will it make their bones, skin, and joints healthier, as well as freshen their breath, as Cott claims the product does for canines? And what happens if Kitty gets ahold of Fortifido? Just some fortification for thought.

The Worldwatch report is at www.worldwatch.org/node/5063.

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