The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the health claim for bottled water brands that contain at fluoride in the amount of 0.6 milligrams to 1 milligram per liter of water, in what can be seen as an opportunity for new marketing techniques as well as debate from fluoride critics.
The FDA said that an acceptable medical statement on bottled water containing appropriate fluoride levels would read: "Drinking fluoridated water may reduce the risk of dental cavities/tooth decay." The FDA did make exception in that these claims cannot be used on water products designed to be marketed to the parents of infants.
This new policy will be seen by some as controversial at a time when potential health risks linked to fluoride are seeing new scrutiny. However, the FDA stated that a review of government health reports on fluoride between the years of 1991 and 2001 showed that the existing claim of tooth decay prevention was valid.
Even so, the potential risks of drinking water that has had fluoride added may not sit well with some bottled water producers. For example, authorities in Scotland have so far refused to allow fluoridation, due to fears it may be associated with bone, stomach and thyroid problems. In addition, a U.S. study published in 2006 showed that boys were five times more likely to get a rare form of bone cancer if they drank fluoridated water at levels considered safe by the FDA, in comparison to boys who drank non-fluoridated water.
"The FDA's decisions always seem to be designed to make people sicker. The agency won't approve common sense claims about cherries easing arthritis pain, but it will approve dental health claims for a substance that we know greatly increases the risk of brain cancer and bone fractures," said Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate. "And yet, most of the so-called fluoride used in water treatment is actually a toxic waste byproduct of the fertilizer industry."