SALT LAKE CITY — An alkaline water company with a bottling facility in Utah issued a voluntary recall of its water following suspected links to cases of non-viral hepatitis reported in Nevada late last year, state and federal officials said.
Real Water, Inc., which has headquarters in Arizona and Nevada, recalled 1- and 1½-liter bottles, as well as 500-milliliter bottles of water that had been distributed across the U.S., including Utah, through Amazon, according to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
The company also sells 3- and 5-gallon home and office delivery bottles and 4-ounce Real Water Concentrate, which was available for delivery services or via the internet, as well, according to the department.
The Food and Drug Administration reported last week that 3-and-5-gallon bottles of water were distributed to Utah. It confirmed 5-gallon containers were distributed in St. George through Real Water Southern Utah.
Utah officials said products from the company have now been embargoed due to the recall. They said any who may have recalled products "should discard it immediately and not drink or cook with it."
"Distributors have been notified of the recall and instructed to immediately remove recalled products from all store shelves, distribution, and other inventories to ensure they are no longer available for sale or consumption," the agency continued in a statement Thursday.
In an update Wednesday, FDA officials stated that the agency was working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Nevada Health District regarding "a number of reports" regarding acute non-viral hepatitis in Nevada associated with the company's "Real Water" brand of alkaline water.
"The FDA has become aware that 'Real Water' brand alkaline water is still being offered for sale through online retailers. The agency is working to locate any remaining products to ensure they are no longer available to consumers," FDA officials wrote on Wednesday. "The FDA will continue to monitor this situation closely and follow up with retailers as we become aware of recalled products being offered for sale."
The agency added that due to a "lack of cooperation" by Real Water, they have yet to complete investigations of Real Water facilities in Henderson, Nevada, and Mesa, Arizona. Officials posted on March 24 that the agency had issued a "Demand for Records" under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as a result.
The FDA first posted about Real Water on March 16, which was three days after it said the agency was alerted to five cases of non-viral hepatitis resulting in liver failure in infants and children within the Southern Nevada Health District. All five were hospitalized and recovered. Officials said wrote that consuming Real Water alkaline water was "the only common link identified among all of these cases to date."
More possible cases then surfaced. The Associated Press reported last week that there were multiple lawsuits that have been filed against the company over illnesses tied to Real Water. One lawsuit was filed by a Nevada man, who alleged the product led to a need for liver transplant in 2019.
Symptoms of non-viral hepatitis include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay or gray-colored bowel movements, joint pain, yellow eyes and jaundice, according to the Department of Agriculture and Food. It can lead to severe illness and the department recommended anyone experiencing those symptoms to contact their doctor.
While based primarily in Arizona and Nevada, officials from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food said Real Water has a bottling facility in Hildale, Washington County. The company posted a video message from the company's founder and president, Brent Jones, on March 23.
In it, Jones apologized to customers for safety concerns with the company's water products. He said it appeared the contaminated water instances were tied to Las Vegas home and office delivery and that the company issued a voluntary nationwide recall as a precaution.
"We started Real Water over 13 years ago with the intention of providing a health product that benefits and elevates people's lifestyles," he said, in the video. "We're deeply saddened to learn that anything otherwise can be the result."