Is Bottled Water a Scam?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Stossel Matters" segment: buying bottled water. It's estimated that Americans spend — ready for this? — $11 billion with a "B" consuming bottled water each year instead of H2O from the tap. Free there. A new documentary called "Tapped" says the whole bottled water industry is a farce.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you buy Aquafina or you buy Dasani water, it's basically your tap water. You're buying water that could come out of your tap and paying a thousand times the price for it.

CRAIG STEVENS, BOTTLED WATER LOBBYIST: I think what is the case is what you are getting is pure, refreshing water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what they would have us believe, and that's what the labels would have us believe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it misleading to have a mountain on there when it's coming from the municipal tap?

STEVENS: Again, I would let you pontificate on that.


O'REILLY: With us now, Fox News business anchor John Stossel, looking into the bottled water deal.

I do drink bottled water. I buy it, but I think I'm being scammed. I do.

Click here to watch the segment!

JOHN STOSSEL, FOX NEWS BUSINESS ANCHOR: You are being scammed, but you can afford it.

O'REILLY: I can afford it.

STOSSEL: Distribution of wealth.

O'REILLY: Can be used for better purposes.

STOSSEL: Definitely should. I mean, we've done all kinds of taste tests on it. When it's blind taste test, tap water almost always wins. And all the studies show that tap water, except in a few parts of the country, is just as good for you.

O'REILLY: Is it true, as the documentary says, that 40 percent of the water that winds up in these bottles is actually tap water?

STOSSEL: I doubt the 40 percent. But it's certainly true that, in some cases, it's tap water put in those bottles.

O'REILLY: And that's true.

STOSSEL: When people were complaining about high gas prices, gas stations were selling bottled water that, per ounce, cost more.

O'REILLY: More than gasoline.

STOSSEL: Much of the rest of the movie is ridiculous.

O'REILLY: Why has America — this is a relatively new phenomenon, maybe 10 or 12 years old. Why has America walked away from the tap water into expensive bottled water?

STOSSEL: Well, most people don't. Most people drink tap water. Some people think they like the taste better.

O'REILLY: They think they do? Why do I do it, Stossel? Why do I buy bottled water?

STOSSEL: I wish I had known before I came. I would have given you a blind test here.

O'REILLY: Long Island, where I live, has a high breast cancer rate, and some people say it's because of the water.

STOSSEL: But they say all kinds of things. That's just statistical noise. There's just no evidence.

O'REILLY: So I should really stop buying it and just start drinking the tap water?

STOSSEL: Yes. But the people who say the plastic is causing these cancers. Like, this movie says horrible things, like the plastic in it is associated with…

O'REILLY: The bottles.

STOSSEL: ...toxic chemicals and associated with diabetes, brain disorders, liver disease, cancer, low sperm count in men. This is nonsense. This stuff has been studied to death.

O'REILLY: Isn't it true though when you have billions of bottles like we're looking at now, that a lot of them wind up in neighborhoods, creeks. They don't disappear like paper does. Look, come back to me for a minute. Here's my — here's my bottled water here, all right? This is a paper cup with tap water in it, if I'm lucky. You know, these guys are feeling good, they give you this. But this is biodegradable. This cup will dissolve, right? But a bottle won't. So don't they have a point that, for the environment, all of these billions of bottles floating around are bad for the environment and people don't recycle them?

STOSSEL: No, because in a landfill that won't degrade either. The stuff is packed so tight that even the paper lasts forever. And we have plenty of landfill space in America.

O'REILLY: See, I don't know.

STOSSEL: It's a waste of money. But to say it's an environmental threat — they also say in the year — in 20 years, two thirds of the population will lack clean drinking water. It's just ridiculous. In the past 20 years, billions of people have got clean drinking water for the first time. As we become more prosperous, life gets better. These are silly lefties who attack industry.

O'REILLY: Do you — do you — OK, do you buy bottled water ever?

STOSSEL: When it's convenient. When I want to have a bottle — but I fight with my wife, because at home I drink tap, and she wants...

O'REILLY: She wants the well water. She wins doesn't she, Stossel?

STOSSEL: She gets what she wants.

O'REILLY: Does she not?

STOSSEL: She does.

O'REILLY: All right. I knew it. John Stossel, everybody.

Content and Programming Copyright 2010 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.