Muslims have been warned to beware of potentially poisonous “Zam Zam” water being sold on the streets of East Lancashire.
Trading Standards officials fear are the liquid could contain high levels of the poison arsenic.
Now people are being advised not to drink any bottled water labelled or described as Zam Zam water.
Zam Zam water is sacred to Muslims and comes from a specific source in Saudi Arabia. Under Saudi law, it cannot be exported from Saudi Arabia for sale.
Any water on sale in the UK labelled as Zam Zam is therefore of uncertain origin.
Tests have shown Zam Zam water sold in the UK, or brought into the UK for personal consumption, may contain high levels of arsenic or nitrates.
Paul Noone, chief trading standards officer said: “We have recently been made aware of a large consignment of Zam Zam water being imported into Lancashire.
“We are working with the businesses involved to ensure that it is not sold on for human consumption. However, we also want to remind people of the risks associated with this sacred water.”
Tests carried out on water described as Zam Zam in the UK over the past few years have found levels of arsenic almost three times the legal limit.
The Food Standards Agency advises that drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic could contribute to increasing people’s risk of cancer.
Officials say people should consider avoiding drinking any water described as Zam Zam because there is no completely safe level of arsenic in water – and the more arsenic consumed the greater the risk.
However, advice is that if anyone has occasionally drunk small amounts of this Zam Zam water, the risk to health for adults and older children would be very low.
Infants may also be sensitive to the level of nitrate present so it is not recommended they are given the water to drink.
If consumers find any water on sale that is labelled as Zam Zam, they should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.