HealthCheck: Is killer ‘Evolution’ drink in circulation in Nigeria?

Many may have received 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 don’t buy them. They are called EVOLUTION!!!”

The claim is that the drink contains lethal poison that will lead to death, although no one has been reported to have died from taking the drink neither has anyone named a place where this ‘killer-drink’ can be bought. Despite the widespread distribution of this message, no one has bothered to find out if it is true.

Is Message True?

Research by DUBAWA shows that 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 message that appears to be discrediting the brand did not originate in Nigeria however. Its existence was traced to a Facebook post from the United States in January of 2017 which was dismissed as a fake claim by snopes.com 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 either at the time of the investigation or during the court case.

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”.

Firm Responds

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”.

No Sign Of Drink

Despite the clarification by the manufacturers, the possibility exists that perhaps the product is being smuggled into Nigeria or cloned in the country.

However, research done in three major metropolitan cities – Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt – 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.

A perusal of its archives also shows that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), an organisation charged with the responsibility of ensuring imported products are up to required standards and safe for consumption, does not have Evolution Fresh registered as a product imported into Nigeria.

This Whatsapp message is therefore one of misinformation.

Until the veracity of this Whatsapp message is otherwise confirmed, it is perhaps wise not to help spread the misinformation.

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