Niagara Bottling LLC said the recall is out of an abundance of caution. There have been no signs of its product being contaminated or reports of consumers falling sick, it said.
The family-owned company said the operator of a spring that supplies two of its plants failed to report evidence of E. coli at the source. The bottler said it halted production, disinfected bottling lines and issued a voluntary recall.
Niagara spokesman Stan Bratskeir said the plant was notified by the Department of Environmental Control and the Department of Agriculture of the positive test result for E. coli.
He added that the company had terminated its relationship with Far Away Springs, the water source.
Far Away Springs released a statement conceding that while there was a possibility that spring water samples at the source may not have been bacteria free, every load was tested at the receiving plant, "where all results have been perfect."
Stan Frompovicz, the owner of Far Away Springs, said that in eight years at these two plants, his water has never had a positive test result for E. coli, including at the two receiving plants.
He said that after the bad lab result on June 10, his company rechecked the water and pulled an E. coli-negative sample. He said the water was tested 27 times at the two plants on June 10, and 175 times during the next week, all without a positive test result.
Frompovicz said his water goes through a strenuous disinfection process, which "is working perfectly, because it's killing every bacteria."
He said water from his source is not only drinkable, it's sterile.
The recall affects water bottled from June 10 through 18 in two Pennsylvania plants only. Bratskeir said those two facilities represent less than 3% of Niagara's overall volume.
Niagara has issued instructions to consumers on its website
on how to read the date on bottle labels to determine if water should be returned.
Consumers won't find mainstream brand names on Niagara's recall list, which includes mostly store and generic labels: Acadia, Acme, Big Y, Best Yet, 7-Eleven, Niagara, Nature's Place, Pricerite, Superchill, Morning Fresh, Shaws, Shoprite, Western Beef Blue and Wegman's.
There are many types of E. coli bacteria, some of which are not harmful to people and are commonly found in human intestines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
. But some strains cause diseases that can be deadly if ingested by humans.
Bratskeir said he did not know which strain of E. coli had prompted the positive test result.
The CDC recommends heeding Niagara's recall notice, saying consumers should not not drink any recalled water. Consumers who suspect they might have consumed contaminated water should contact their local or state health department.
Niagara said it routinely tests spring source water and its finished product to ensure its safety. The company said it has detected no E. coli contamination in either.