WATER WITH A REAL 'AURA'
THE NATION Tipco's mineral water plant in the Chiang Mai district of Mae Rim welcomes visitors to its cold spring
Man cannot live without water. Yet how many of us stop to think about the water we drink each day or the source of that clear liquid in our glass?
"I know I don't," admits Pranee Seesamrit, 14, as she pays for a bottle of drinking water at a Samut Prakan minimart. "I've grown up drinking bottled water and I'm convinced it's safe. It's easy to store and carry around too."
At the Aura mineral-water factory in Chiang Mai's Mae Rim district, Tipco Foods chairwoman Anurat Tiamtan urges consumers to be cautious in their choice of bottled water.
Because water is important to the health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) constantly monitors the quality of bottled drinking water and mineral water. Consumers are advised to look for the bottles with an FDA authorisation number, read the label and drink only clear, sediment-free and odourless water from well-sealed bottles.
The FDA awards a manufacturing permit only to manufacturers whose facilities and products meet the prescribed safety standards, which set maximum levels for contaminants such as nitrite and cyanide in a litre of drinking water. Thousands of manufacturers rely on treatment systems that use reverse osmosis (RO), disinfection, and ultra-violet treatment.
However, even with the treatment and purification of water, poisonously charged or detrimental water initially from wells, municipal water supplies, rivers, lakes and underground water can still harm drinkers, according to physicist Dr Wolfgang Ludwig, author of "Environmental Medicine".
"When we drink poisonously charged water we are creating, as the years go by, the basis of diseases or a weak health condition in general. Around the world, water is often chemically and mechanically 'purified' with the intention of ridding the water of as many poisonous substances as possible. This is not even in its own limited way sufficient," says the respected physicist.
Lugwig adds that water that's once been exposed to pollutants is "dead". Even the most intensive and modern sewage treatment facilities cannot revive it and biologically valuable water must contain certain useful frequencies in order for human organisms to benefit from it.
Aura's Anurat referred to Ludwig several times during her presentation entitled "Water, the Elixir of Life".
"In search of the ideal drinking water, we came to Mae Rim," she says proudly.
Spanning more than 80 rai of land, the Aura factory is located on a green mountain in Chiang Mai's Mae Rim district. The mineral water comes from a natural cold spring that persuaded a group of entrepreneurs to abandon plans to open a resort nearly two decades ago and set up a mineral-water factory instead.
In 2006, Tipco Foods took over the mineral-water business from the initial owners, says Jarunee Sa-and, the factory's human resources manager.
Today, the factory produces 100,000 litres of bottled mineral water per day using water from the natural spring. Believing that the fresh mineral water filtered by more than 300 metres of strata beneath a pristine high mountain is the best treatment, all Tipco Foods does during the manufacturing process is to let the water flow through a five-micron filter, go through ozonation, and then a one-micron filter. After that, it is put into clean bottles ready for distribution.
In a bid to boost public confidence in its product's purity and quality, Tipco Foods welcomes group visits to its Aura compound by advance appointment. Jarunee says four to five groups come every month and the response has so far been very good.
During the recent peak tourism season in Chiang Mai, Aura opened its doors to passing tourists and invited them to see the natural cold spring - the source of its bottled product. The green landscape of Aura compound, decorated with winter blooms, attracted tourists heading to the Nong Hoi Royal Project Centre.
"With the centre on Doi Mon Cham increasingly in popularity, we saw the opportunity to educate the public about our mineral water. By welcoming tourists to our place, we have a greater chance to communicate with the public about our product and help them understand and value natural and pure water," says Jarunee.
Although the Aura factory collected Bt40 admission from tourists during the peak tourism season in December and January, it succeeded in drawing more than 4,000 visitors.
Anurat plans to use tourism as a way to communicate directly with consumers. A tour around the Aura facility, after all, promises to convince most, if not all, that Aura mineral water is pure and natural.
TAKE A SIP
• Natural mineral water is water containing minerals such as magnesium and iron that comes from an underground natural source.
•For bottled mineral water, the level of minerals must be safe for drinking purpose.
• Source: 2000 Regulation of the Public Health MinistrySource:http://www.nationmultimedia.com/
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