'No arsenic in genuine holy water', Saudis say

A bottle of Zamzam water Zamzam water is gathered from a well in Mecca but there is a ban on exporting it from Saudi Arabia

Related Stories

The Saudi Arabian embassy in London has said there is "no arsenic" in Zamzam water from the country, which is considered sacred to Muslims.

The comments come after BBC London found samples from the source in Mecca contained "high levels of arsenic".

The embassy said the water was tested in March and added: "There is no arsenic in genuine Zamzam water."

Zamzam water is taken from a well in the holy city of Mecca and is not exported for commercial use.

The BBC asked a pilgrim to take samples from taps which were linked to the Zamzam well and to buy bottles on sale in Mecca, to compare the water on sale illegally with the genuine source.

A BBC investigation discovered "Zamzam water" was being sold by Muslim bookshops in Wandsworth, south-west London, and Upton Park, east London, as well as in Luton, Bedfordshire.

'Not contaminated'

Tests on the BBC samples from Mecca showed high levels of nitrate and potentially harmful bacteria, and traces of arsenic at three times the permitted maximum level, just like the illegal water which was purchased in the UK.

Looking at the results Dr Duncan Campbell, president of the Association of Public Analysts, said: "The water is poisonous, particularly because of the high levels of arsenic, which is a carcinogen."

In response to the report a spokesman for the Saudi embassy said: "Zamzam water from the Zamzam well in the Holy City of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, is not contaminated and is fit for human consumption.

Pilgrims gathering in Mecca The water has a special significance for many of those who go on pilgrimages to the city of Mecca

"The water was analysed and tested in March this year by the Group Laboratories of CARSO-LSEHL in Lyon, which is licensed by the French Ministry of Health for testing drinking water.

"The March report said: 'According to drinking water standards in France and based on the analysis conducted on the samples of Zamzam water, this water is fit for human consumption."'

The spokesman added that "pure" Zamzam water was collected, bottled and distributed by King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz's Zamzam project, which was supervised by the Saudi Ministry of Water and Electricity.

The spokesman added that Zamzam water was not exported to the UK and "anyone engaged in the trade of selling water here would come under British jurisdiction".

"The Embassy wishes to make it clear that any writing on a bottle of water suggesting that it comes from the Zamzam source is not proof that the water is genuine."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

18 °C 9 °C

Features

  • Spanner CrabEdible images

    Are these the best food photographs of the past year?


  • Beckford's TowerFolly or fact?

    The unlikely debt capital of Britain


  • European starlingBird-brained

    How 60 starlings multiplied into a nightmare flock of 200 million


  • Observatory in Chile with sun in the backgroundStar struck

    Why tourists are flocking to Chile's observatories


  • Two people using sign language Signing out

    The decline of regional dialects for the deaf


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.