A common question around water safety and the water regulations is: what is the South African National Standard of drinking water and why is it important? We often hear about the South African National Standard (SANS), but are often not exactly sure what it means.

In order to understand SANS, we need to understand where the term comes from. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is a South African regulatory body established in terms of the Standards Act, 1945 (Act No. 24 of 1945). It continues to operate in terms of the newest edition of the Standards Act, 2008 (Act No. 29 of 2008) as the national institution for the promotion and maintenance of standardization and quality in connection with commodities and the rendering of services.

Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right and vital to human health. The South African National Standard (SANS) 241 Drinking Water Specification states the minimum requirements for potable water to be considered safe for human consumption.

These requirements include microbiological, chemical and physical properties of the water. Safe drinking water (that complies with SANS 241) does not pose a significant risk to health over a lifetime of consumption, including life stages with increased sensitivity (infants, babies, elderly and the immuno-compromised).

SANS 241 shows various properties of water need to be checked to determine if water is safe for consumption. SANS 241 categorizes the properties of water into 4 main risk categories and states the minimum values that water must conform to before being considered safe drinking water.

This is especially important when changing over to borehole water for your hotel / facility. If you are outside of the major cities, it is also worthwhile having your water tested against the SANS 241 standard.

In the link below are the physical, aesthetic, operational and chemical determinants of water according to the South African National Standard – http://www.dwa.gov.za/Dir_WS/DWQR/subscr/ViewComDoc.asp?Docid=605

Food Consulting Services is a private South African owned Food Testing Laboratory, that tests water and food to ensure compliance with South African National Standards. If you’d like to learn more about Food Consulting Services, visit our website or feel free to enquire with us. We look forward to hearing from you and becoming your food safety partners.

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Ryan Shaw