Real Water CEO apologizes as man suffers liver failure after drinking it as FDA launches probe

The Food and Drink Administration (FDA) has warned people not to drink alkaline water brand ‘Real Water’ after a man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a transplant apparently from drinking the product. 

The FDA said it had been alerted to five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis that led to liver failure in infants and children in Nevada in November 2020 where the ‘only common link’ was found to be the brand’s ‘alkaline water products’.

The agency has launched an investigation and warned people not to drink, cook with, sell, or serve Real Water, which costs around $1.89 for a single 1-liter bottle.

Since then, four suits have been filed in Clark County District Court against the firm from consumers who said they fell ill after drinking the water including one damning claim that a man had to be airlifted to hospital for a liver transplant.   

Brent Jones, the company’s founder and president, released a video Tuesday to ‘personally apologize’ to the brand’s customers amid the ‘deeply concerning’ links to liver disease. 

Jones, a Scientologist and former Nevada legislator, announced he was pulling the brand from the shelves of retailers and issuing a voluntary recall to customers.     

Real Water markets itself as ‘the healthiest drinking water available’ claiming its higher pH means it can ‘detoxify’ and ‘hydrate like never before.’

Mounting concerns over its potential health risks come after the alkaline water craze has taken off in recent years, with health fanatics buying into its purported benefits including anti-ageing properties, weight loss benefits and claims it can prevent cancer.

However, scientists remain skeptical about its alleged health benefits with research studies so far limited.  

The Food and Drink Administration (FDA) has warned people not to drink alkaline water brand 'Real Water' after a man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a transplant apparently from drinking the product. Myles Hunwardsen pictured in his hospital bed

The Food and Drink Administration (FDA) has warned people not to drink alkaline water brand 'Real Water' after a man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a transplant apparently from drinking the product. Myles Hunwardsen pictured in his hospital bed

The Food and Drink Administration (FDA) has warned people not to drink alkaline water brand ‘Real Water’ after a man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a transplant apparently from drinking the product. Myles Hunwardsen pictured in his hospital bed 

Brent Jones, the CEO of Real Water, has apologized after a man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a transplant apparently from drinking the product as the Food and Drink Administration announced it has launched a probe and lawsuits start to pile up

Brent Jones, the CEO of Real Water, has apologized after a man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a transplant apparently from drinking the product as the Food and Drink Administration announced it has launched a probe and lawsuits start to pile up

Brent Jones, the CEO of Real Water, has apologized after a man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a transplant apparently from drinking the product as the Food and Drink Administration announced it has launched a probe and lawsuits start to pile up

‘First, we’d like to express our deepest sympathy and concern over the events that led to the inquiry,’ Jones said in the video. 

 ‘We started Real Water with the intention to provide a healthy product that benefits and elevates people’s lifestyles. We are deeply saddened to learn that anything otherwise could be the result.’ 

The CEO described the recall as ‘deeply concerning’ and said the company is fully cooperating with the FDA probe. 

‘This recall is deeply concerning because you should never have any worry about the safety of any of our products,’ he said.

‘As the majority owner and offender of Real Water I want you to know that I stand behind every product we sell and safety will always be our top priority. 

‘I want to personally apologize to our customers and I assure you that the lessons learned will drive further improvements in the brand.’

Jones pointed out that all the incidents of illness are connected to its Las Vegas home and office delivery but that the company had issued a voluntary nationwide recall ‘until the safety of our product is clearly established.’

Real Water, which is based in Las Vegas, also posted a notice on its website saying the company was notified last week about the potential ties to illnesses.  

The FDA said Friday it had been alerted to five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis in infants and children in the state of Nevada in November 2020 where the 'only common link' was found to be the 'alkaline water products'

The FDA said Friday it had been alerted to five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis in infants and children in the state of Nevada in November 2020 where the 'only common link' was found to be the 'alkaline water products'

The FDA said Friday it had been alerted to five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis in infants and children in the state of Nevada in November 2020 where the ‘only common link’ was found to be the ‘alkaline water products’

The agency launched an investigation and warned that people should not drink, cook with, sell, or serve Real Water

The agency launched an investigation and warned that people should not drink, cook with, sell, or serve Real Water

The agency launched an investigation and warned that people should not drink, cook with, sell, or serve Real Water

What is alkaline water and is it safe?

What is Real Water? 

Real Water is marketed as an alkaline water ‘with 9.0 pH that utilizes the proprietary E2 Technology, making it the only drinking water on the market that can maintain a stable negative ionization’. 

It claims to act as a detox and balance pH levels making it ‘the healthiest drinking water available.’

How is it made?

According to the Real Water website, the water is made through a seven-stage purification process where it is passed through a resin bed, charcoal filter and UV light sanitizing unit among other things to remove certain ions, particles and bacteria.  

It is then treated with the company’s E² Technology.

What is alkaline water? 

Alkaline water is water with a higher pH than regular drinking water, meaning it is less acidic. 

Regular drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7 while alkaline water will have a pH of 8 or 9 because it contains  alkaline minerals.  

What are the health benefits? 

There are many claims about the benefits of drinking alkaline water including that it helps slow ageing, cleans the colon, helps weight loss, boost the immune system and can prevent chronic illnesses like cancer because it helps to neutralize the acid in the body. 

A 2012 study found drinking alkaline water can help acid reflux by helping to deactivate pepsin – the enzyme that causes it. 

But many health professionals say there isn’t enough scientific research to support claims.  

What are the risks?  

Alkaline water is not typically known to cause liver problems or to be dangerous to drink. 

According to Healthline, ‘water that doesn’t fall in the ‘safe’ pH range of 6.5 to 8.5, particularly if it’s alkaline, isn’t necessarily unsafe’ but very alkaline water can have an ‘unpleasant smell or taste’ and can damage water pipes.  

That said, the Mayo Clinic maintains that drinking regular water is best.  

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Jones’ apology comes as lawsuits are starting to pile up against the brand in the wake of the launch of the FDA probe. 

Five people filed a joint suit in Las Vegas Monday against Real Water maker Affinity Lifestyles.com, as well as major retailers Whole Foods Market, Costco Wholesale and Terrible Herbst where the product is sold.

The suit claims the five people all fell ill after drinking Real Water.

Perhaps the most damning claim is that one man suffered liver failure and had to undergo a liver transplant after drinking the alkaline water. 

The suit says Myles Hunwardsen was diagnosed with acute liver failure in September 2019 and was airlifted to UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital for a transplant.

One of the other claimants Miriam Brody says she was treated for liver failure at Henderson Hospital back in November 2018. 

The three other claimants, Jazmin Schaffer, Tina Hartshorn and Christina Sosa, were also treated for liver illnesses after drinking the water, resulting in medical bills of at least $300,000, the suit states. 

The suit says ‘had the Plaintiffs known the truth — i.e., that Defendants’ bottled water contained elevated levels of toxins that would cause severe liver damage, rendering them unsafe for consumption — Plaintiffs would not have purchased them.’ 

This suit marks the fourth filed against the brand within the last week, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  

Three California women filed a federal class-action complaint in Las Vegas, a man filed a case in Clark County after being treated at an urgent care center earlier this month and two parents filed a suit claiming they and their infant son, 2, fell ill after drinking the water. 

It is not yet clear if more people will join the class-action suit. 

The FDA announced Friday it was investigating a number of reports of acute non-viral hepatitis in the state of Nevada tied to the consumption of Real Water.

Acute non-viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure and even death. 

The FDA said it had been made aware of five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis that had resulted in acute liver failure in infants and children in November 2020 with all five patients hospitalized as a result.   

The agency said the alkaline water brand was the ‘only common link’ and that the evidence so far suggested it ‘may be the cause of the illnesses’. 

It urged people not to drink, cook with, sell or serve the product. 

Real Water said it was asking retailers to remove the product from shelves or return it to the distributors and asking customers to return the product while the investigation is ongoing.  

Its products are in the mid-market range, retailing for around $1.89 for a single 1-liter bottle on Instacart, compared to $2.49 for a 1-liter bottle of Fiji and $1.09 for a 1-liter bottle of Poland Spring. 

Many major retailers and smaller convenience stores stock the bottle including Whole Foods, Costco and Key Foods, while it can also be bought directly from the Real Water website for home and office delivery.

Real Water is marketed as ‘a premium, drinking water with 9.0 pH that utilizes the proprietary E2 Technology, making it the only drinking water on the market that can maintain a stable negative ionization’.  

Myles Hunwardsen (pictured) was diagnosed with acute liver failure in September 2019 and was airlifted to UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital for a transplant

Myles Hunwardsen (pictured) was diagnosed with acute liver failure in September 2019 and was airlifted to UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital for a transplant

Myles Hunwardsen (pictured) was diagnosed with acute liver failure in September 2019 and was airlifted to UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital for a transplant

It claims to act as a detox and balance pH levels making it ‘the healthiest drinking water available.’

This isn’t the first time the company has come under fire.

Several discrimination lawsuits have previously been brought against the firm and Jones by ex-staffers.

One suit, which was later dismissed, was brought by a woman who accused Jones of making her and other employees watch Scientology-based videos. 

A former exec at Real Water also previously claimed they were required to attend Scientology-based facilities while working at the company. 

Scientologist Jones is even rumored to have named Affinity Lifestyles as a nod to the group’s ‘ARC Triangle’ meaning ‘Affinity – Reality – Communication.’ 

California native Jones founded Affinity Lifestyles, the maker of Real Water, 13 years ago in Nevada. 

Prior to this, he started his career training as a lawyer before he served one term as a Nevada state legislator from 2014 until 2016.

He was then defeated in his reelection bid by Democrat Justin Watkins.

In 2018, Jones then had a failed run for lieutenant governor. 

Five people filed a joint suit Monday against Real Water maker Affinity Lifestyles.com, as well as major retailers Whole Foods Market, Costco Wholesale and Terrible Herbst which sold the products

Five people filed a joint suit Monday against Real Water maker Affinity Lifestyles.com, as well as major retailers Whole Foods Market, Costco Wholesale and Terrible Herbst which sold the products

Five people filed a joint suit Monday against Real Water maker Affinity Lifestyles.com, as well as major retailers Whole Foods Market, Costco Wholesale and Terrible Herbst which sold the products

His wife Aimee Jones also ran that year to win the Assembly seat her husband lost in 2016.  

Alkaline water has risen in popularity in recent years due to its claimed health benefits. 

While regular drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7 alkaline water has a higher pH of 8 or 9 because it contains alkaline minerals, meaning it is less acidic.   

There are many claims about the benefits of drinking alkaline water including that it helps slow ageing, cleans the colon, helps weight loss, boost the immune system and can prevent chronic illnesses like cancer because it helps to neutralize the acid in the body.  

But many health professionals say there isn’t enough scientific research to support claims.  

That said, alkaline water is not typically known to cause liver problems or to be dangerous to drink. 

According to Healthline, ‘water that doesn’t fall in the ‘safe’ pH range of 6.5 to 8.5, particularly if it’s alkaline, isn’t necessarily unsafe’ but very alkaline water can have an ‘unpleasant smell or taste’ and can damage water pipes.  

Advice from the Mayo Clinic is that drinking regular water is best.   

The alkaline water is said to come with a number of health benefits and claims to be 'the healthiest drinking water available'

The alkaline water is said to come with a number of health benefits and claims to be 'the healthiest drinking water available'

The alkaline water is said to come with a number of health benefits and claims to be ‘the healthiest drinking water available’

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