How many times can I fill in water bottle?

Just when we were going to the source to fill the bottle of mineral water with tap water, discovered on its label a legend that says: “for your safety. Do not fill in”.

How many times can I fill in water bottle?

What does it mean?

It is the first time we read a phrase as well in a plastic bottle label. In fact are very few brands that include this legend. Fuensanta is one of them and Cabreiroá, which we have here, is another. So we decided to discover the meaning of those five words. Is it true that saying that is hazardous to health to reuse water bottles?

A few days ago collected in an article echoed that of the opinion of the manufacturers themselves in that country: in 2007 recommended in Practical Gastroenterology magazine that consumers do not fill disposable water bottles. “Reuse of plastic bottles can cause bacterial contamination, unless we wash them on a regular basis”. The problem is that doing so with water and SOAP (to eliminate these bacteria) can damage the bottle and damage it.

The same thing happen in Spain? Has the same purpose the message read in the Cabreiroá water bottle? It is a commercial matter or is true what they say many that bottle material is a carcinogen, according to popular belief?

The own brand is who has the answer and it is they who give us an explanation to this enigma. Over the phone we get in contact with customer service office and factory in Verin (Ourense). A few and others give us the same response: no, no worrying about health. If the message is there is to avoid that you complete other that can be mistaken for water and liquids which are toxic for human consumption. Refer to the case lived in 2008 in the municipality of Cea (Ourense), when a woman drank the clear fluid that was filled a bottle and turned out to be dishwasher. It suffered heavy burns to the throat.

“With respect to reuse, there is no food safety problems, but it is advisable not to reuse the bottles to avoid fraud [the company’s brand appearing on the label can answer only the quality and safety of the product that has packed] as a measure for the prevention of accidents”, we explain from The National Association of water companies bottled drink (ANEABE).


Most water bottles that are marketed in Spain they are made from PET, a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate with high resistance to chemical agents, stability to weathering and high rigidity, among other features. In the bottle is represented by a triangle within which appears a 1. That 1 corresponds to the classification that is made of plastics for recycling them correctly. Nothing to do with the popular legend according to which the number indicates how many times the bottle could be used.

“The biggest problem of the bottles is without a doubt the hygienic question”, says José Angel Garde, technical Department of technologies of the container AINIA technology centre in line with the theory of U.S. manufacturers. The inside of it can become contaminated with microorganisms and fungi which come from our body (mouth) or the environment and which can cause pathologies in the short to medium term. As explained on the website, “the bacteria thrive in hot and humid environments” and also adhere more easily than plastic to glass or metal.

The ideal to remove those microorganisms is water and SOAP, as indicated by the American manufacturer, but that could end up deteriorating the bottle. That is why Garde recommends to throw common sense and ensures that the number of times that we can fill again a bottle “depends on the use that makes each one of it with your personal hygiene”. Although, according to this, the important thing is to not trust us never of a bottle that we ourselves have not filled in to make sure that we know what is fluid that contains.

In addition it is essential to attend to the recommendations for the conservation of the manufacturer clearly reflected on the label: protect from direct sunlight, preserve aggressive odor, and store in a clean, cool and dry place.

Other findings such as those of the Government of New Zealand, who through the website of the Ministry of primary industries, insists on the need to “wash your hands before you fill the bottle and examine it to make sure it is not damaged” are added to this list. Also emphasizing the need to make sure we know the origin of the water and not to share the bottle if you drink directly from it.


The proliferation of bacteria is therefore the reason why is not recommended to constantly reuse plastic bottles, facing the popular belief that the plastic can cause cancer by the release of DEHA, a supposedly carcinogenic component.

“From the point of view that the material to degrade and can transfer unwanted substances to the water (both before backfilling as after) is highly unlikely, since the PET resists this treatment” says Garde.

It is the idea that advocates from ANEABE, which ensure that the plastic is a very safe material: “There is a very strict legislation of materials in contact with foodstuffs which, moreover, is periodically reviewed”. As noted on the website of the Spanish Consumer Agency, food safety and nutrition (AECOSAN), agency of the Ministry of health, materials in contact with food are regulated throughout the EU unanimously. According to the standard, “not must give their constituents to foodstuffs in quantities exceeding those laid down. For this purpose, limits of specific migration, for certain substances, and limits of global migration, as well as trials of migration are established to demonstrate the conformity of the material”.

In this way, plastic material that makes up the bottle (PET) can yield some potentially toxic compounds to water but in normal conditions it would not be dangerous to the health.

In relation to the DEHA, the allegedly carcinogenic substance that is released to reuse the bottles, the United Kingdom (Cancer Research UK) cancer research institute ensures that there is no convincing evidence that plastic bottles contain this material so you can not ensure that the use of these bottles cause cancer. A conclusion reached in 2003 Swiss researchers to study the case in three different countries. None of them were found significant concentrations of DEHA in analyzed bottles water, still all of them below the levels indicated by the World Health Organization (who). Thus, it was concluded that it is highly unlikely to ingest this material when we drink bottle water, if it is mineral or if we got it from the tap.