No, Crystalline water is not the cause of the death of a child in Mayotte

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Two people died in May 2024 from cholera in Mayotte, including a three-year-old child, and dozens of others have been infected in recent months on the French island in the Indian Ocean, in the grip of an cholera crisis. water. In the process, videos relayed on social networks claimed that the child had died after drinking bottled water from the Cristaline brand. But this is false: the Mayotte Regional Health Agency has formally denied any link between the brand and this death, due to cholera. If certain batches of Cristaline bottles were well judged “defective“in Mayotte recently, the two events have nothing to do with each other. These batches had an anomaly”olfactory” probably linked to poor transport or storage conditions, according to the company. There have been no cholera bacteria found in Cristaline bottles.

A three-year-old child and a 62-year-old woman died of cholera on May 8 and 25, 2024 respectively in Mayotte, the Regional Health Agency (ARS – archive 1, 2) announced successively.

The first cases of cholera were recorded there in mid-March among people returning from neighboring Comoros, where the epidemic is flaring. Then, the first cases called “indigenous”that is to say diagnosed in patients who have not left the French island, appeared at the end of April.

Cholera, for which there are vaccines and effective treatments, is a disease of bacterial origin which can cause acute diarrhea and lead to death from dehydration within one to three days (archive). It is transmitted through contaminated water or food.

The epidemic comes at a time when access to drinking water has been disrupted for months in Mayotte, with the population being deprived of tap water one day in three, due to lack of sufficient production (archive). From August to January, running water was even cut off two days out of three, while the State appeared to be in a hurry by distributing free bottles of water.

Women arrive at a bottled water distribution point in the Majicavo district, in the town of Mamoudzou, in Mayotte, on February 19, 2024 (AFP / JULIEN DE ROSA)

In this context, publications relayed on social networks wrongly linking the death of the Mahorais child to the consumption of Cristaline brand water, produced by the Alma group (archive), have gone viral, for example on Facebook.

Others do not mention the situation in Mayotte at all, like this video on Facebook, which states: “Crystal Clear Water contaminated a three-year-old child who died”and evokes a “product recall”.

On TikTok, certain videos have been relayed hundreds of thousands of times, like this one, viewed more than 1.3 million times, according to which “L“The National Health Agency orders to no longer consume this water for the moment” because the lots “Elena” whose bottles would be stamped under the cork “M1 03/11/25 (…) could be very dangerous for health” (archive).

Some Tiktokers claim that it “There is a bacteria called cholera [sic] inside” of these bottles of Cristaline and call on consumers to throw away those they store at home.

Screenshot of Tiktok videos, made on May 27, 2024, claiming that Cristaline water is contaminated and is the cause of the death of a child

“No link” between a batch “defective” and the death of the child

These publications in fact confuse the death of the child and the identification in recent months of batches of Cristaline “defective” by the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Mayotte, but which had nothing to do with the cholera epidemic and which, moreover, did not give rise to any recall of bottles.

The virality of these misleading videos was such that the ARS of Mayotte published a press release on May 24, 2024 to “strongly deny” these false assertions (archive).

“As part of the analyzes it is carrying out, the ARS identified on Monday May 13 a defective batch of Cristaline ELENA (numbering M1 03/11/25). Investigations are underway on this subject. However, no no link exists between this defective batch and the death of the child which occurred on Wednesday May 8 as a result of cholera., she pointed out.

On May 13, in a press release, the ARS Mayotte then had “asked the population not to consume the bottles belonging to this batch”without carrying out a recall (archive).

This was the second time since the start of the year that a batch of Cristaline bottles was identified as “defective”after that of January 28, 2024 which concerned lot CH1 10/23/25 from the Noémie Source (archive).

6ee3c05008.jpgA woman carries a pack of bottled water obtained at a distribution point in the Majicavo district, in Mamoudzou, Mayotte, February 19, 2024 (AFP / JULIEN DE ROSA)

In January as in May, the ARS clearly emphasized that the restriction concerned “exclusively the water bottles in the lot” mentioned : all other Cristaline water bottles, including those from the Elena and Noémie sources bearing a different batch number, “can be consumed”And “no anomaly has been detected in other bottled waters currently distributed or sold in Mayotte.she insisted.

Questioned on May 27, 2024 by AFP to clarify the reasons why these lots had been judged “defective”ARS Mayotte had not responded at the time of publication of our article.

“Olfactory abnormality”

The Alma group, which produces Cristaline water, spoke to AFP about a “olfactory anomaly” Who “could be linked to storage or transport conditions from France”recalling the storage instructions for bottled water which must be “kept away from sunlight in a dry, clean and odor-free place”.

“The lot [identifié en mai] was not the subject of a recall procedure, the usual procedure triggered by the ARS in the event of danger to the health of consumers”also argued the Alma group in an email to AFP on May 27, 2024.

“All the controls carried out on the bottles produced at the Elena Source comply with the regulations in force” And “no bacterial contamination was observed”he further emphasized.

The company also regretted the “little information on the origin of the problem” broadcast by the ARS, which according to her could have influenced the spread of the rumor: “the absence of information could have given free rein to erroneous and even malicious interpretations of the situation”she judged.

Supporting context

This false information surrounding Cristaline water comes in a particular context, when consumers are increasingly concerned about the quality of water, including in bottles, after revelations in recent months of fraudulent practices by major brands. (archive).

Nestlé Waters, the French subsidiary of the Swiss agri-food giant Nestlé – which draws water from the Perrier, Vittel, Hépar and Contrex brands in France – recognized on January 29, 2024 in the press that it had used prohibited disinfection treatments ( UV lamps, activated carbon) on mineral waters to maintain their “Food Safety”. She had thus tried to defuse the revelations, the next day, from Le Monde and Radio France which had access to official documents suggesting that Nestlé and other companies had broken the rules or evaded the deterioration of the quality of groundwater sold like water “natural minerals” Or “from Source”for which disinfection is prohibited.

893f61e8a7.jpgBottles of water on a Nestlé Waters production line in Vittel, July 19, 2010 (AFP / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN)

Two investigations for deception were launched immediately, one by the Epinal public prosecutor’s office concerning Nestlé Waters and the other by that of Cusset (Allier) concerning the Alma group, which produces Cristaline water, St-Yorre or again Vichy Célestins. The consumer association Foodwatch also filed a complaint with the Paris court, targeting Nestlé, Alma but also the government, which it accuses of “complacency”.

In April 2024, two million bottles of the Perrier sparkling water brand, a subsidiary of Nestlé, were also destroyed at the request of state services after the discovery of bacteria “of fecal origin” (archive).

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