#HEALTHCHECK – Would a Company Sell You Poison? Not This Time!

While this question may engender hot and long drawn out debate as to the definition of poison, what reasons a company might have to sell poison and other such points; yet another viral whatsapp message is the reason why it is being asked at this time. You might have seen this message on whatsapp “ASAP…pls (SIC) don’t ignore send to your family & friends immediately because the drink is already in Nigeria, send to everybody to save lives. These drinks are poison. Pls dont buy them. They are called EVOLUTION!!!”

The claim is that the evolution drink contains lethal poison that will lead to death, although no known person appears to have died from taking the drink neither in fact has anyone actually named a place where this killer-drink can be bought. The viral whatsapp message has either been so effective that no one has taken the drink or this claim is false.

So is the Message True?

The Evolution drink actually does exist. Jimmy Rosenberg the founder and Chief Juice Officer of Evolution Fresh began fresh fruit juice processing in 1980 and the company’s website has information about the company, its management and its products.

The viral whatsapp message that appears to be discrediting the evolution brand did not originate in Nigeria. Its existence was traced to a facebook post from the United States in January of 2017 and was dismissed as a fake claim by a fact-checking outfit operating from the USA.

According to snopes, the message might have started when a woman named Ramineh Behbehanian was accused of placing rubbing alcohol into two bottles of evolution fresh drink, then switching the tainted bottles with others in a refrigerator at a San Jose Starbucks store. Behbehanian, a chemist, was initially charged with attempted murder and poisoning, however, subsequent lab tests ordered by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office found that the orange juice bottles allegedly dropped off by Behbehanian contained vinegar (a non-harmful substance), so the district attorney’s office declined to file charges against her.

This appears to have been an isolated case of an experiment gone wrong and the company was not accused of any wrongdoing neither at the time of the investigation nor during the court case and has not done any recalls on any of its products in recent memory.

Interestingly, the company does not produce or market its products in Nigeria,a statement on the company’s website reads “the distribution or sale of Evolution Fresh juices outside the United States and Canada is unauthorized. Any product sold outside the U.S. and Canada is either counterfeit or has been purchased, shipped and resold”. The company responded to an enquiry regarding the production and distribution of their products thus,“Thanks for reaching out. We can confirm that Evolution Fresh is only sold in the U.S. and Canada. These rumours, however, are malicious, unfounded and completely false”.

This being Nigeria, is it possible that a counterfeit of these drinks are being made and circulated in Nigeria without the permission of the company? Well, very unlikely. As far as research done in three major metropolitan cities, Lagos, Abuja and Portharcourt shows, this product is not being sold anywhere in these cities. The food and drug regulatory body in Nigeria -NAFDAC, also does not list evolution fresh products on its product recall list as might have been the case had the drinks been found to be in the country and poisonous.

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), an organisation charged with the responsibility of ensuring imported products are up to required standards and safe and self-proclaimed as the “apex standardization body in Nigeria”, does not have Evolution Fresh registered as a product imported into Nigeria.

This claim is therefore a case of misinformation (unknowingly sharing false information). Until the veracity of this Whatsapp message is otherwise confirmed, please do not pass this message around.

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