Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

H2O system pure 'quackery'

H2O system pure 'quackery'


By Bronwyn Sell

It looks like water. It tastes like water. It has the same molecular structure as water. But it'll cost you up to $13,000.

For 10 years Hamilton company Ecoworld has been selling a water treatment device called The Grander Living Water system, which it says energises H2O, making it permanently resonate with the cosmos.

Drinking water treated by the system, it says, will improve your circulation and blood pressure, detoxify your body and reduce allergies.

The Commerce Commission wasn't convinced. Neither was Judge Merelina Burnett when the commission took Ecoworld to the Hamilton District Court in March for breaching the Fair Trading Act.

In a reserved judgment, the judge said scientific tests had shown there was no measurable difference between water treated with Grander Living Water technology and untreated water, and the company had demonstrated "a significant level of wilful blindness and negligence".

"Among its content, the Grander [promotional] material contains inconsistencies, quackery and pseudo-science that even when presented with credentials, glossy journals, explanatory photographs, tables, graphs and laboratory aids, does not escape the impression of promising the improbable."

She found Ecoworld guilty of nine charges of misrepresenting its products and seven alternate charges of misleading consumers.

It faces a fine of up to $100,000 when it is sentenced on July 1.

The judgment said Living Water was purported to have been energised in a secret process guided by divine inspiration by Austrian naturalist Johann Grander, who implanted a range of natural vibrational frequencies into it.

The frequencies, according to the Ecoworld website, "energise it like a mountain spring which bubbles up out of the ground and tumbles over rocks and waterfalls, becoming full of vitality, freshness and energy".

Ecoworld sold the energised water in two forms: a rod or pendant containing the water, which it said energised other water into which it was immersed; and taps, bores and other devices containing Living Water which it said treated water which flowed through them.

Judge Burnett said Ecoworld's director, Ruby Walker, and its director of research and marketing, Barry Jones, had dealt with the literature and information they received from Grander by "assuming that if it says it is so, then it is so".

She said prices for the products seemed to range from $200 to $13,000.

Mr Jones told the Weekend Herald that the company stood by its product, which he said was used by more than 3000 New Zealanders, and was planning to appeal the decision.

He said NZ authorities were intent on trashing "so-called alternative" remedies, including Living Water and the protein drink Body Enhancer, "because we're starting to have an impact, with people getting away from chemical usage".

The Auckland company that sells Body Enhancer, Zenith Corporation, was also successfully prosecuted by the Commerce Commission.

It was found this month to have committed 26 breaches of the Fair Trading Act in its advertising.