|Quick question, readers: Where does Poland Spring bottled water originate? If you're answer is "Poland Spring," a troubling report in Mother Jones will show that you aren't even half right.
According to the muckraking publication, only about one-third of the water sold under the Poland Spring brand actually comes from the location bearing that name. Here's where its gets a little tricky. A 2002 lawsuit accused the company of false advertising because the original Poland Spring dried up in 1967. Nestlé (NSRGY), the corporate parent of Poland Spring, settled the case without admitting wrongdoing and offered $10 million in discounts for consumers and donations to charity.
Mother Jones quotes Nestlé spokeswoman Jane Lazgin saying the majority of Poland Spring comes from other springs in Maine. "I guess there was a time where it almost all came from Poland Spring, Maine," Lazgin said. "We purchased the company in 1980 and since that time we have added springs in Maine."
One reason why Poland Spring diversified its supplies is huge demand for the brand, she said. Nestlé's other water brands are tied to specific places, but Lazgin declined to say what percentage of the products comes from those areas, Mother Jones said. Lazgin didn't respond to an email request for comment from MSN Money. The International Bottled Water Association also could not be reached.
Environmentalists have long accused the bottled water industry of misleading consumers about the purity of its product. A 2011 report by the Environmental Working Group noted that many brands make "vague claims of a pristine source" on their labels.
There may be a reason for this evasiveness. The Natural Resources Defense Council notes on its website: "Just because water comes from a bottle does not mean that it is any purer than tap water."