Report Finds That Whole Foods Bottled Water May Contain Troubling Levels of Arsenic

Attention Whole Foods Shoppers: Consumer Reports (CR) is concerned about the level of arsenic in a brand of bottled water that’s sold at Whole Foods and online at Amazon. The water is called Starkey Spring Water.

If you happen to drink a bottle of Starkey Spring Water, your health probably won’t suffer, but according to CR’s chief scientific officer, James Dickerson, Ph.D., “regular consumption of even small amounts of the heavy metal over extended periods increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and lower IQ scores in children.”


The FDA has set the acceptable level of arsenic in bottled water to 10 parts per billion (ppb). Starkey Spring Water is within those guidelines, but barely. After testing dozens of bottles of water, CR found arsenic levels that range from 9.49 to 9.56 ppb.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told CR, “These products meet all FDA requirements and are fully compliant with FDA standards for heavy metals.”

The FDA agrees with Whole Foods saying that “it is not possible to remove arsenic entirely from the environment or food supply” since it is a naturally occurring element.

CR scientists have tested 45 different brands of bottled water this year, and Starkey Spring Water is the only one that has arsenic levels higher than 3 ppb. In most brands, the amount of arsenic was undetectable.

In some states, like New Jersey and New Hampshire, the acceptable level of arsenic in tap water has been set at 5 ppb which means that if Starkey Spring Water were tap water instead of bottled water, it would be unacceptable in those states.

Erik Olson, senior strategic director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told CR, “I think the average consumer would be stunned to learn that they’re paying a lot of extra money for bottled water, thinking that it’s significantly safer than tap, and unknowingly getting potentially dangerous levels of arsenic.”

Does it surprise you that the level of arsenic in bottled water can be higher than in tap water? Do you buy Starkey Spring Water?