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Perrier Returns to Third State

April 27, 1990

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Perrier has returned to a third state despite a last-minute wrangle with health authorities that took some of the sparkle out of the promotional blitz over the bottled mineral water.

Perrier, absent from the market since February because of a chemical scare, was reintroduced in Connecticut and New Jersey on Tuesday.

The company - which has been advertising its impending return for some time - launched a promotional campaign in New York on Thursday that included passing out the green bottles on Manhattan streets.

″We’re calling it Perrier Day,″ said Jane Lazgin, a spokeswoman for Greenwich, Conn.-based Perrier Group of America Inc.

Distribution is planned for other states in the east later this month and in the Los Angeles area by mid-May, said.

The company recalled its bottled water worldwide in February after tests showed traces of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical. The company said the amounts were so small as to pose no health threat, and said the benzene came from improper filtration of carbon dioxide gas added to the water.

Then last week, in the midst of the build-up for reintroduction of Perrier - in bottles labled ″nouvelle production″ - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration refused to let the water be labled ″naturally sparkling.″

That brought another round of bad press for Perrier, touted as a healthful, naturally sparkling mineral water.

Perrier officials went along, even though they insist the carbonation and water both come from the spring, but the carbon dioxide is separated and filtered before being put back in the water.

In New York, reintroduction planned for Wednesday was delayed by yet another disagreement with health regulators, this one over salt content.

One of many chemical test results submitted by the company showed higher levels of sodium than allowed under federal standards for products advertising themselves as being low-sodium, said William Fagal, department spokesman.

Perrier, already nervous about consumer questions about its purity, said many other tests showed no problems with sodium, he said.

The company and Health Department finished negotiating terms of the reintroduction Wednesday night.

New York inspectors were still finding old bottles of Perrier from before the recall on store shelves and also wanted to make sure the company had sufficient plans for retrieving them, according to William Stasiuk, director of the Health Department’s Center for Environmental Health.

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