When I was in Rome, I got two warnings from the locals:

  1. Beware pick pockets and keep your valuables safe and covered in the streets.

  2. Don't buy water bottles from the guys on the street: they might be used bottles.

Pick-pocketing is obviously illegal no matter where you are, but what about the second one: Is it legal to sell water in used water bottles in Rome? Is it legal in the U.S.?

  • 1
    Years ago when traveling in Italy I was told to buy water with gas as a way to know the water bottles weren't refilled by the restaurant. It seems that fraud statutes would apply to selling a refilled water bottle as new. If you labeled them as refilled then you would probably face trademark issues without whoever's brand was on the bottle. – Dave D Sep 7 '15 at 16:57
  • @DaveD - but these guys just say "Water! You want water! 1 euro!" They don't claim that it is refilled or brand new. They just claim that it is water. Are they breaking some sanitation law or something like that? – Daniel Sep 7 '15 at 16:59
  • I understand how the restaurant issue I mentioned works - the restaurant keeps a glass water bottle after using it and simply refills it. I don't understand how a street vendor selling, presumably, plastic bottles of water makes it work. Are they going around collecting all the uncrushed and empty water bottles and finding caps to then refill them? Are they buying empty water bottles in bulk and then filling them? If the street vendor had a large supply of water bottles for sale then I find it hard to believe they were enterprising enough to go around and collect so many used bottles with caps – Dave D Sep 7 '15 at 18:09

This would be illegal in the United States, and my guess (although I've not looked) it would also be in Rome, as well as any other first-world (for lack of a better term) nation. Bottling water in the US is heavily regulated by the FDA. You can read all about it at this link: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/BuyStoreServeSafeFood/ucm077079.htm

For general purposes 21 CFR Part 129, states: These regulations require that bottled water be safe and that it be processed, bottled, held and transported under sanitary conditions. Processing practices addressed in the CGMP regulations include protection of the water source from contamination, sanitation at the bottling facility, quality control to assure the bacteriological and chemical safety of the water, and sampling and testing of source water and the final product for microbiological, chemical, and radiological contaminants. Bottlers are required to maintain source approval and testing records to show to government inspectors. Checking adherence to part 129 regulations is an important part of FDA inspections of bottled water plants.


Don't (ever, ndr) buy water bottles from the guys on the street

They do not have a license and a registered VAT number, so they are not permitted to sell anything. No tax, no work! That is the legal reason related to tax regulation.

they might be used bottles.

Please refer to @gracey209 answer

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