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Sunday 23 July 2017

Troubled water firm in fresh scare over hygiene

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

A BOTTLED water firm that distributed products under a different name following a series of damaging recalls has fallen foul of health authorities again, the Irish Independent has learned.

The owners of Shannon Minerals, a major supplier to supermarkets around the country, switched to distributing under the name of sister company Burren Springs after concerns over hygiene led to product withdrawals two years ago.

Both companies operate from the same premises in Limerick city.

But the use of a different name has failed to halt controversy surrounding the business, which is run by the family of former world champion athlete Frank O'Mara.

In recent weeks Burren Springs has been at the centre of two major recalls after bacteria was found in bottled water.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) records reveal how Aldi initiated a recall on August 5 of Comeragh Still 6x750ml multipacks from its stores around the country.

In a statement, the budget supermarket chain said it initiated the recall "due to the possible presence of harmful bacteria".

It said it returned the entire stock to Burren Springs and was no longer using the company as a supplier.

Aldi said no other products in the Comeragh Irish Spring Water range were affected by the recall.

FSAI records also show that Burren Springs had to initiate a recall on August 16 of batches of two of its other brands, Coolwater Irish Still Spring Water and Burren Springs Irish Natural Spring Water. The FSAI said bacteria was found in the water which was not permitted under EU legislation.

In both cases the bacteria were discovered by HSE environmental health officers during routine sampling.

In a statement the FSAI said the type of bacteria found were coliforms and pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The authority said that while coliforms were not considered a risk to human health, their presence "may indicate a problem with the quality of the water source or indicate possible contamination during the bottling process".

It also said pseudomonas aeruginosa was only a risk to people whose immune systems were compromised.

Debts

Repeated calls to the Shannon Minerals/Burren Springs premises over the past week seeking comment went unanswered.

A public relations firm which has represented the business said it was not in a position to comment.

The latest recalls come as Shannon Minerals faces winding up proceedings next week.

Affidavits filed with the High Court reveal slimming firm Unislim Plus is seeking to wind up the company over unpaid debts of €108,000.

Shannon Minerals entered an agreement to produce a range of specialist waters for Unislim Plus.

However, the range was never produced and Unislim Plus got a judgment of €150,000 against Shannon Minerals last year. According to affidavits, the amount was partially paid, but payments halted in February with €108,000 still outstanding.

Irish Independent

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