Last month we reported an FDA safety alert linking Real Water-branded alkaline water to outbreaks of hepatitis. Since then, history has taken detective-like twists, including the disappearance of staff, roadblocks to keep investigators at bay, and the filing of a lawsuit or two.
Breakout and recall
The investigation began when the FDA and the Southern Nevada Health District learned that Real Water was the only common denominator among five cases of non-viral hepatitis reported in Mesa, Az. The alkaline water is made by Real Water, owned by Affinity Lifestyles and based in Nevada.
All five identified hepatitis cases reported in November 2020 were in toddlers and infants. All recovered after hospitalization from acute liver failure. Older people in every household reported less severe symptoms.
On March 24th, Real Water issued a formal recall. A week later, the company was informed of the results of the investigation.
A deeper well?
It turns out, however, that the most recent cases examined by the FDA were just the tip of the iceberg. Nine lawsuits have been filed against the company, according to the Las Vegas Journal review.
David Hilton Wise, one of the attorneys representing Real Water's clients, described his clients' conditions as "liver failure, hospitalization, fever, vomiting, nausea, anorexia and / or fatigue". His customers, he said, "would not have bought the product or paid much less for it if they had known that there was a risk to their health by consuming it."
Another attorney, Will Kemp, who is handling several of the lawsuits, said his firm represented "dozens" of clients who have been sick over a five-year period.
On March 23rd and 25th, the FDA requested Real Water's corporate filing. According to the FDA, Real Water wasn't exactly cooperative and put up roadblocks to thwart investigators. The company denied investigators access to documents at company locations in Henderson, Nevada and Mesa, Az. On March 23, company owner Brent A. Jones posted a video on YouTube and apologized to customers.
Meanwhile, the FDA announced that the company has changed its sales information. The agency reported that "a number of dealers" in nine sales areas from New York to California said they had not been notified of the recall as of March 31.
The other side
And now for the tension. According to the Journal Review, attorney Real Water Inc. recently told a judge at a hearing with Charles LoBello that the plant manager and senior technician could not be found. However, the latest Journal Review update said the company has pledged to "cooperate in any way possible" on ongoing legal disputes and to hand over the equipment used by the company to detect water pollution.
At this time, the Real Water website is "unavailable for maintenance". Affinity Lifestyles on the 2018 Gust platform doesn't mention the issues of water.
Not safe for you or your pets
"We advise consumers, restaurants, and retailers not to consume, boil, sell, or serve alkaline water with 'real water' until more information is available about the cause of the disease," said Frank Yiannas, FDA assistant commissioner for Food Policy and Response. said in a statement. “We are working to find out how alkaline water is related to diseases. While the investigation is still ongoing, epidemiological information currently suggests that this alkaline water product may be the cause of the disease. We will provide additional updates as more information becomes available. "
The FDA's list of hepatitis symptoms includes "fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay or gray stools, joint pain, yellow eyes, and jaundice".
A formal recall has not been issued, but the FDA recommends that the purchase, sale, and use of Real Water be stopped. If you have the product and experience any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor. This product was also sold online.
As of this writing, the site is "unavailable for maintenance". Affinity Lifestyles on the 2018 Gust platform doesn't mention the issues of water.
Sean Marsala is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based health journalist. He loves technology, usually reads, surfs the internet, and explores virtual worlds.