Most restaurants push diners to buy expensive bottled water instead of serving free tap water, a consumer group said today.
One fifth of customers are reticent about asking for tap water when eating out, the National Consumer Council (NCC) found.
The group is calling for an end to what it calls the mineral water rip-off.
Seven out of 10 people questioned thought mineral water in restaurants was too expensive and wanted free tap water to be readily available.
Only 1% of restaurants in north west England and London always offer free tap water over the bottled variety, according to the survey of 1,000 people.
NCC senior policy advocate Carl Belgrove said: ‘Some restaurants are willing to offer tap water to their customers, but the majority push mineral water just to make a quick profit.’
Serving free tap water at restaurants would reduce the number of plastic bottles thrown away, the NCC added.
Its findings come from a poll of 1,000 over 16s interviewed in September by market researchers TNS.
Bottled Water Information Office spokesman Richard Laming said: ‘We agree that people should always have a choice of bottled water or tap water and the vast majority of restaurants are only too happy offer that choice.
‘But people often prefer to choose bottled water for a number of reasons. They like the taste of different bottled waters and the assurance that they know exactly what source they come from, as well as having the choice of still and sparkling water.’
© The Press Association, All Rights Reserved