Caution urged on drinking Zam Zam water

By on 06/08/2010 in News

Birmingham City Council is asking Muslim residents to avoid drinking Zam Zam water in large quantities and to dilute the water to minimise the health risk.

Muslims believe that water from the well of Zam Zam has life-giving properties that satisfies hunger and thirst, and cures illness. 

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recently issued a warning regarding bottled water labelled Zam Zam water on sale, and also water bought into the country as a personal import following pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

In Birmingham, bottled water labelled as Zam Zam is available in retail outlets that may not usually sell food or drink, and is sometimes available from under the counter on request, although it may not actually be genuine water from the well of Zam Zam. Although some retailers label the Zam Zam water for external use, it is predominately drunk.

People attending Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages fill up water canisters at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and take it back home to the UK to distribute amongst relatives and friends.

Some airlines have recently announced that they will increase their baggage allowances on specialist flights so that pilgrims can bring Zam Zam water back to the UK.

Zam Zam water is on sale in Birmingham throughout the year, but sales are more frequent around Ramadan.

It is against Saudi Arabian law to export Zam Zam water for commercial gain; but in the UK it is not against the law for the water to be sold. 

Some of the Zam Zam water on sale, and water bought in as a personal import, has been tested by Birmingham City Council and been found to contain both arsenic and nitrate above the levels permitted in UK legislation. 

Councillor Neil Eustace, Chair or the Public Protection Committee, said:

“There is no data available on the composition of genuine Zam Zam water, so we cannot confirm whether bottled water labelled Zam Zam has come from Mecca or not.

“We are urging residents to be very cautious of drinking bottled water labelled Zam Zam where they cannot be sure where it has come from or how it has been stored.

“Occasional drinking of small amounts of Zam Zam water should pose a low risk to the health of adults and older children, but should never be drunk by babies.”

If people have any concerns about any water labelled Zam Zam in their possession, they can arrange for it to be tested by council Environmental Health Officers by calling 0121 303 5440.

ENDS

For more information please contact Hayley Meachin on 0121 303 1271/ 07920 750007  hayley.meachin@birmingham.gov.uk

Notes to Editors

Information from the 2001 Census indicates that 140,000 Muslims live in Birmingham (14.3% of the population), which represents the second largest Muslim community in the UK.  Demand and consumption of Zam Zam water increases during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (depending on the sighting of the new moon, the first day of fasting will be 11th August 2010) and this demand fuels the sale of water labelled as Zam Zam water in areas of high Muslim population.

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