An investigation prompted by fears that an Aldi kitchen tap is a source of lead contamination has found the product to be “safe for use”, the retail chain says.
The Easy Home spiral spring mixer tap was earlier this month found to contain lead levels up to 15 times the maximum outlined in the Australian drinking water guidelines, prompting the consumer watchdog (ACCC) to warn consumers not to drink water from the tap.
Aldi Australia CEO Tom Daunt said he was disappointed many Aldi customers were provided information that generated such “unnecessary concern and inconvenience”.
“I was alarmed by the claims suggesting that the spiral spring mixer tap, sold as a ‘special buy’ on June 10 this year, may contaminate drinking water,” he said.
“I can assure you that as soon as this matter was brought to Aldi’s attention, we initiated a priority investigation.
“Our teams have worked tirelessly with authorities and independent testing laboratories to confirm that the tests conducted prior to sale were accurate, and the product is safe.”
Mr Daunt said the company that conducted the tests which set alarm bells ringing, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), prematurely published statements based on tests that were “not conducted in accordance with the Australian Standard”.
Aldi told The New Daily its investigation involved tapware samples being tested in accordance with the Australian drinking water guidelines, conducted by a National Association of Testing Authorities accredited laboratory.
Aldi refused to respond to The New Daily‘s request for further specific details regarding the number of taps that were tested as part of its investigation.
Elizabeth O’Brien of The LEAD Group, which campaigns “to eliminate lead poisoning globally”, said she believes certain Australian testing standards need to be reviewed, adding that expanded testing may be necessary to determine if a plumbing product, such as a tap, adds too much lead to the water flowing through it.
“Until it is clearly demonstrated that QBCC’s first result is not repeatable in other labs, I would advise anyone … to stop drinking the water,” she said.
“I am not aware that there is a tap-manufacturing industry in Australia anymore. According to a licensed plumber I have spoken to, approximately 80 to 90 per cent of taps in Australia are now imported from China, with some taps also made in Italy.
“I am not at all opposed to taps made in China or Italy per se, just opposed to taps which add lead to the water.”
Ms O’Brien, one of Australia’s leading lead experts, said she would like to see more testing focused on sampling water from the tap after the water has been stagnant inside the tap (or pump) for about nine hours. This would mimic filling a kettle first thing in the morning.
“This is the only valid test because a WaterMark-certified pump was adding nearly seven times the Australian Drinking Water Guideline (ADWG) lead limit to my rainwater, which makes me strongly question the validity of WaterMark Certification.”
QBCC did not respond to The New Daily‘s request for comment by deadline.