PEI

Lab results show claims about natural product from P.E.I. questionable

Claims that a nutritional supplement, advertised as being manufactured on Prince Edward Island, is made from natural sources are questionable, an investigation by CBC News has found.

Claims that a nutritional supplement, advertised as being manufactured on Prince Edward Island, is made from natural sources are questionable, an investigation by CBC News has found.

DistilPure MSM is available for purchase only over the internet. The label says it is made in Charlottetown from pine trees. MSM, or methyl sulfonyl methane, is a common nutritional supplement, meant to help with arthritis and hay fever, though there have not been enough clinical studies to prove its effectiveness scientifically.

MSM is typically derived from fossil fuels. Nutritional supplements consultant Theo Sakoutis of Montreal said he regularly takes MSM for his allergies and was excited to find a version of the supplement derived from pine trees.

"When I saw it was natural pine tree source and from Canada I said, 'Wow that sounds like a great idea.' I want to take a natural product like anybody else," Sakoutis told CBC News.

But when Sakoutis asked his regular supplier, Bergstrom Nutrition of Washington state, about naturally sourced MSM, the company expressed doubts. It said it tested DistilPure and that it did not come from pine trees.

Product appears to have come from petrochemicals

CBC News ordered its own sample of DistilPure and sent it to Beta Analytic in Florida, the world's largest carbon dating laboratory. Any product made of recently living material contains a signature level of radioactive carbon 14, said Darden Hood of Beta Analytic.

"All living things, relatively speaking, have same amount of this radioactive carbon," said Hood.

[The] material did not contain any carbon 14 derived from recently living material.

"If we were to run outside … and grab a leaf off a tree for instance, and measure that, and then we were to measure a product made from the leaves of the tree … we would get the exact same number."

So, if the DistilPure MSM is made from pine trees, said Hood, the amount of carbon 14 in the product should be the same as for a pine tree, or any other living organism.

"[It was] zero for this product," said Hood of the test results, "indicating the material did not contain any carbon 14 derived from recently living material."

That means the DistilPure must have come from a petrochemical or fossil fuel that's more than 50,000 years old, Hood said. If there is any pine tree in it, it's such a small amount it cannot be measured.

Company has no comment

CBC News contacted Fortius Canada in Charlottetown, which is listed on the label as the manufacturer of DistilPure.

Company CEO Alan Andreason had previously said that his company was making MSM but would not say whether it was the manufacturer of DistilPure MSM, as the product label indicated. Andreason did not reply to a voice mail left by CBC News describing the lab results from Beta Analytic.

DistilPure is not sold by Fortius directly. It is exported from Canada and sold through an American distributor. The seller is a UK company, Rain Nutrience, and Andreason is listed as one of four directors for that company. CBC News reached Rupert O'Connell, managing director of Rain Nutrience, but he wouldn't answer any questions.

Because DistilPure is exported before being sold back into Canada, it doesn't have to be registered with Health Canada, and that makes it difficult for people like Sakoutis to lodge a complaint.

"There's something wrong here," Sakoutis said. "These guys are very evasive. They're not being straightforward. The lab results prove that this is a fake product.

"The fact they are out there, promoting this stuff, and they're getting people to buy it based on a lie, that's very frustrating."

In the case of false claims made over the internet, it is possible to make a complaint through Health Canada's Health Protection and Food Branch Inspectorate or the Competition Bureau of Canada.

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