Celebrity chef ‘Paleo’ Pete Evans’ alkaline water brand has been found in breach of advertising standards over “untruthful and misleading” promotional claims that it can deactivate pepsin and ‘detox’ the pancreas.
The Ad Standards Community Panel upheld a complaint against his ‘Alka Power’ alkaline water product that is sold through retail supermarkets such as Woolworths. Evans receives royalties from sales of the $3.50 bottled water branded with his name, which has a pH of 9. It is promoted via internet advertising with health claims including that it “neutralises the acid base of the body, deactivates pepsin, detoxes the pancreas, increases bone density and changes blood viscosity.”
However the Ad Standards Panel sought independent expert advice, which found there was no evidence to support any beneficial effect of alkaline water on pepsin.
The expert adviser noted that pepsinogen is transformed into its active form, pepsin, when it comes into contact with the strong acidic environment of the stomach. The expert told the Panel there were a number of isomers of pepsin, and each had different levels of stability when exposed to alkaline environments. While some isomers of pepsin were completely inhibited when exposed to high pH (i.e. pH 7.1-7.3), pepsin-5 was alkalisable, and retained 100% of its activity.
“It is therefore unlikely that all isomers of pepsin would be completely deactivated through the consumption of alkaline water, as this would be unlikely to increase stomach pH to 7.1-7.3, and in any case, even if this were to occur pepsin-5 would remain active. Thus, the statement on the website that Alka Power alkaline water will deactivate pepsin is unlikely to be correct.”
The Panel ruled that the claim for alkaline water was unsubstantiated, and therefore potentially misleading and it was removed.
Likewise the claim for pancreas detox was dismissed as lacking in credibility since there was no scientific evidence for protective actions of alkaline water against undefined toxins in the pancreas.
While an animal study had shown that alkaline water preserved pancreatic beta-cell mass in diabetic mice in diabetic mice, this could not be interpreted as having a detoxifying effect in healthy humans, the expert advisor said.
“The Panel considered that most members of the community would consider this statement to be generic puffery and not making a medical claim as to the effectiveness of the product and therefore is unlikely to be misleading.
The claims were therefore removed.