A distributor of Zamzam water in the UK has issued a warning to people about products being advertised on social media claiming to contain the holy water.

It follows concerns water is bottled and sourced outside of Saudi Arabia and being shipped over to the UK and sold as Zamzam products.

In an investigation which the Lancashire Telegraph has seen, a laboratory test compares ‘Zamzam water’ bought online via Facebook, and Zamzam from a genuine supplier.

Zamzam water hails from a well which is located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in Islam. 

While performing the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage, millions of Muslims visit to drink from the well each year.

When people leave, they can take a bottle of water with them. Any other bottles exported to the UK are supplied through registered companies, and normally delivered to mosques or direct to people’s homes.

However, in the past year more bottles are believed to have found their way on to the shelves of cash and carry stores predominantly selling South Asian products.

An investigation in April 2022 found how customers were being duped into buying fake Zamzam water in the county, sold in almost identical bottles. 

In May 2023, Trading Standards in London also seized 280 five litre bottles from an importer in Ealing which were suspected to be fake.

Bottles have then been sold into shops in Lancashire, Manchester, Bolton, Leicester Bradford and London.

One genuine company, which sells original Zamzam water in five litre bottles from Saudi Arabia, said it had been alerted to a number of sites and social media channels purporting to sell the water, raising concerns more people may be conned into buying fake products.

Taufeek Suleiman of Haramain Imports, said: “We are a non-profit organisation (NPO) based in the United Kingdom. 

“We have been investigating and tracking the sales of Zamzam water five litre bottles in the UK for nearly three years. 

“These bottles are coming into the UK and been sold among the UK Muslim communities.”

He said some online selling platforms were promoted with the help of ‘Islamic influencers’ and whilst a genuine bottle may be shown on images a fake may be sent out.

He added: “We have an online public awareness platform in the interest of public health and safety, especially for the members of Muslim community in the UK and worldwide, who consume blessed sacred Zamzam water for many reasons. 

“The purpose of this platform is to spread awareness in good faith.”

How do you know that your bottle is filled with Zamzam water?

The Zamzam water being sold online comes packed as it would from Saudi Arabia and appears to include all the correct labelling. 

However, there are a number of discrepancies between these bottles and others which are said to be authentic that have been highlighted. 

These discrepancies include a missing ‘S’ on packaging, and the pristine nature of the bottle itself, which appear to be new and unblemished. 

Authentic bottles coming from Saudi Arabia tend to be scratched from the journey.
There were also discrepancies in the bottle tops and the engravings on the side of the bottles.

Zamzam water distributors have revealed how the name of the bottle manufacturer can be revealed, which lends another clue to the water’s legitimacy. 

By screwing off the lid and placing a dark piece of paper or material behind it will reveal the identity of the bottle manufacturer.

The authentic bottles are said to have ‘Kaz Zamzam’ written on the neck. However, those imported from elsewhere, most notably Turkey may have the factory name printed there.

A major national distributor which imports around 35,000 bottles every year said every bottle is ‘individually checked at the warehouse for any damages during transit before deliveries’. 

The firm said it ‘had never found any bottle with a ‘Turkey factory stamp’ amongst them.

It said its bottles are not sold online and only available in Islamic stores and shops, whilst others are sold to Imams at mosques.

Some of these bottles would then be sold on for charitable purposes.

Where is Zamzam water bottled?

King Abdullah ibn Abdul-Aziz Project for Zamzam, which is managed and run by National Water Company of Saudi Arabia, operates a bottling facility where Zamzam is packed into five litre sealed bottles.

In 2022, the National Water Company announced it had awarded a contract to bottle Zamzam water to Al-Khorayef Water and Power Technologies Company for a period of five years. 

The four production lines in the bottling plant have a maximum production capacity of 200,000 bottles per day.

How much are bottles being sold for?

A bottle will set you back £18 but they have been known to be sold for upwards of £24.

It is believed thousands of bottles which may not have originated from Saudi Arabia could have been sold to customers up and down the country.

Laboratory tests reveal 'discrepancies' between water

We were shown evidence of transactions and messages where an online seller had been asked for refunds over concerns.

In one purchase a customer got in touch with a company named UK Zamzam Supplier on Facebook and was asked to go to pick up four bottles from an address in High Wycombe. There he met a man and documented the purchase.

He agreed to meet in March 2023 on the first night Ramadan. In an exchange seen by us, he agreed to transfer £110 to an account.

The bottles were later inspected and compared with a ‘genuine’ Zamzam bottle.
A number of discrepancies were noted including the pristine condition of the bottle that had no scratch marks, the omission of an ‘S’ at the bottom of the bottle and an engraving of the bottle manufacturer on the side of the bottle neck.

The buyer, known as Adnan, said: “Initially I got back in touch with them and asked for a refund as I said I suspected the bottles were not genuine.”

The buyer did receive a response when he attempted to return the four bottles after questioning their authenticity.

A message from UK Zamzam Supplier to him read: “Zamzam is sold on the basis of trust and Amanah, such is the trust I have from my supplier and only know good from them.

“There is speculation going around due to other jealous competitors whose stock has stopped and they are spreading misinformation.

“Regardless for a mere £100 I don’t want to disregard my honour so bring the bottles back and I’ll issue a full refund.”

We contacted UK Zamzam Supplier and did not receive a response to our queries to clarify concerns.

However, the buyer has yet to receive a refund when we spoke to him in January.

He said: “I waited and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“I’ve tried contacting the person who sold me the bottles for a refund but he is unresponsive doesn’t respond to his calls.”

Later, the buyer has submitted his bottles for testing at a laboratory.

The results reveal discrepancies between the minerals content of the water between the two bottles. The tests help to analyse the water's chemical composition and provide clues about its origin. 

Adnan said: “It has bought forward all the fears I had initially.

“I do think this needs to be highlighted as people need to know what it going on.”

We contacted UK Zamzam Supplier and sent over the results and did not receive a response to our queries to clarify concerns.