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Bottled water contains more bacteria than tap water.

Bottled water contains more bacteria than tapwater, with some brands found to harbour levels 100 times above permitted limits, according to new research.

A team of scientists found that 70 per cent of popular bottled water brands available in shops had high levels of bacteria.

The researchers from Ccrest Laboratories in Canada found that tap water had less bacteria than bottled water.

Microbiologist Dr Sonish Azam, of Ccrest Laboratories, said bottled water did not live up to its claims or purity.

She said: "Heterotrophic bacteria counts in some of the bottles were found to be in revolting figures of one hundred times more than the permitted limit."

Dr Azam said tighter controls needed to be put on bottled water manufacturers.

"Bottled water is not expected to be free from microorganisms but the [level] observed in this study is surprisingly very high," she said.

Dr Azam said there was no need to drink bottled water if tap water was of a good quality.

"Unsurprisingly, the consumer assumes that since bottled water carries a price tag, it is purer and safer than most tap water," she added.

Dr Azam said that the bacteria in bottled water is unlikely to cause disease.

"But the high levels of bacteria in bottled water could pose a risk for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, infants, immunocompromised patients and the elderly," she said.

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