Consumer perceptions of drinking Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Alnasser, Khaled M. Alzeer and Y. Khatri
Executive Director for Food Control, Food Inspectorate, Riyadh, KSA
Khaled Mohammed Alzeer
Food Safety Manager, Food Inspectorate, Riyadh, KSA
UNDP Consultant, Riyadh, KSA
Purpose: This study examined the quality of tap and bottled drinking water to assess issues related to chemical and microbiological concerns that have been expressed by consumers.
Design: In this study, we examined the tap water in a total of thirty-six different homes from three different regions in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh), and compared this with bottled water samples from six manufacturing plants in each of the three regions for three months (n = 54). In addition, we conducted a cross-sectional survey (n = 337) in the same regions to determine consumer concerns towards bottled and tap water; this survey was in the form of a questionnaire.
Findings: Low levels of E. coli and P. aeruginosa were found in Jeddah and Dammam respectively. The results showed that consumers are concerned about the water that they drink. Distrust, income, purity, risk and taste all played a part in water selection. Respondents with high incomes indicated that they were prepared to pay for bottled water to reduce the risks associated with water borne diseases, while low income earners stated that it was expensive to buy bottled water.
Value: These findings have wide ranging implications for both immediate and future programmes aimed at improving water quality and distribution to homes. Arid regions world-wide will benefit from scrutinising the quality of potable water, assessing and mitigating the risks along the distribution channel. A thorough review of the supply of water to homes using a risk-based scheme, such as hazard analysis and critical control point HACCP, is essential. Furthermore, it is essential that infrastructural materials should be replaced through a planned maintenance programme. The need to inform the general populace about potable water quality is necessary.
Keywords: Bottled water, tap water, consumer concerns, Saudi Arabia, risk perceptionBottled water, tap water, consumer concerns, Saudi Arabia, risk perception