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Can Water Prevent Dehydration?
"In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods."
- Arthur Schopenhauer

After over three years of investigation and deliberation, the European Food Safety Authority (part of the EU) has issued a Scientific Opinion on whether bottled water vendors would be permitted to claim that "regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance."

The EU concluded that a claim that water could prevent dehydration would not be allowed. A time line of the agency's activities that resulted in their decision is included in the Opinion. What remains unclear is whether the Scientific Opinion's conclusion is more absurd that the length of time it took to produce it.

Americans, however, should examine some of their own regulatory decisions before mocking the European regulators. The real question is how to reform regulatory processes to prevent silliness that brings the regulatory process into disrepute while still protecting public health and safety.

A forthcoming article in the Administrative Law Review providing the history of Presidential regulatory review makes a number of recommendations including "injection of the Data Quality Act into the process" of reviewing regulations and petitions. Application of the DQA could help dissuade agencies from making statements that don't comport with reality while providing a substantive mechanism for redressing existing regulations and decisions which are not substantively correct.

Although it's easy to laugh at the European water decision, it's not hard to imagine US regulatory authorities making a similar decision about claims which could increase bottled water sales in light of policy preferences to discourage the purchase of bottled water.

The DQA is needed now more than ever.

See the EU Water/Hydration Decision

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