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Bottled drinking water must be produced under licence

THE synonyms for the word licence include words such as authorisation, permit, warrant and ticket. It can therefore be described as a permit from an authority to own or use something, do a particular thing, or carry on a trade, etc. The Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) is an institution that develops national standards and promotes the use of those standards.
One such standard is ZS 388 which specifies the description, treatment, testing, packaging and labelling of bottled water for human consumption. Water is one such product that falls under what is known as mandatory standards, and as such, for any company to be allowed to supply water, they must have a licence or permit from the Zambia Bureau of Standards.
It is against that background, that today I want us to talk about permit conditions to supply bottled water. I have decided to talk about water because of its importance to human existence. And the good news, dear reader, is that ZABS has the capacity to test and analyse portable water for human consumption. So, if you are a start-up company desiring to produce and sell water, here is what you need to know and do.
The first thing that I would advise all start-up companies to do is to obtain the standard for bottled water which is ZS 388. This standard specifies the description, treatment, testing, packaging and labelling of bottled water for human consumption. The standard is available for sale at ZABS head office at Lechwe House opposite Kulima Tower bus stop, on Freedom Way.
A point to note dear reader is that producing bottled water without a permit to supply from ZABS and consequently without adhering to ZS 388 is a violation of the Standards Act Cap 416 of the laws of Zambia and may result in dire consequences to the perpetrator of such an act.
The applicant shall formally apply for a permit to supply using the appropriate forms that will be obtained from ZABS and shall complete all the sections. The application form will then be completed and signed by an authorised representative of the company who shall hold executive authority within the corporate structure or firm.
On acceptance of a completed application form and receipt of the application fee, the Bureau shall provide the applicant with an estimate of the time and cost required to conduct the initial inspection. Be forewarned, dear reader, that an incomplete application may result in delay in processing, hence the need for the applicant to ensure that all the required information is complete before returning the application to the Bureau.
Once the application is confirmed, an initial establishment inspection will be conducted at the proposed premises of the business to determine its ability to consistently meet specified operational requirements and standards for the product. This of course will be undertaken on a date notified to the applicant, after processing the application. Other stages include sampling of the product and testing. After that a report will be generated based on the inspections conducted and a recommendation will be made. If there are any corrective actions to be undertaken, then the inspector from the Bureau will bring that to the attention of the company managers.
The decision as to whether or not to issue a permit to supply shall be taken by the Bureau on the basis of the information gathered during the evaluation or inspection process.
The Bureau shall officially notify the establishment of the decision to award or not to award a permit to supply. The establishment acquiring this permit to supply shall accept the laid down permit conditions and shall adhere to the requirements set forth by the Bureau. Should the application be successful, the company will now have the legal mandate to produce and sell water.
So are you planning on starting a portable water business? Then you need to visit Zambia Bureau of Standards to ensure that you follow the right procedure and have the necessary documentation to safeguard your business and the consumers. As our slogan states, we stand for safety and quality assurance! Join us!
For more information
Contact the Director
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House, Freedom way
P O Box 50259, Lusaka
Tel: 260-211-231385,
The Author is Head-Marketing and Public Relations, Hazel Mafwenko Zulu