Albe Geldenhuys of USN, a master scam artist?

Posted 9 March 2014

USN was founded in South Africa by Albe Geldenhuys. Meet a great salesman – and also one of South Africa’s biggest scam artists.

Why are we making such a bold claim?


[note note_color=”#f6f5a2″]26 January 2015
Mr Geldenhuys/USN has posted to the USN website a response to this post. We have posted a response to his claims – many a misdirection from the claims being made in this posting – and his threat of legal action. The response has been posted here. (opens in a new window) [/note]

[note note_color=”#f6f85d”]Update 18 March 2015
USN/Albe have threatened legal action against Hertzner if they do not implement a ‘take-down’ notice against CamCheck. This is discussed at length here (opens in a new window)[/note]

[note note_color=”#f6f85d”]Update 04 December 2015
In  September 2015, Dr Steinman/CamCheck received notification that USN/Albe have instituted a High Court action against them alleging defamation, Read the rest

57 comments to Albe Geldenhuys of USN, a master scam artist?

  • John Mcneil

    Amen the truth will always come out!!

    Worst is Dischem is also supporting his brand Biogen that Albe owns. Dischem so what now ? Ivan and Stan yes you that have known that Albe has used inferior raw materials for so many years misleading the publick with fals claims. Dischem you talk about responsible retailing – lets see how you react now! All of that just to drive margin and profit – ripping off consumers.

    Its time that South Africans know the truth, there is great brands in SA and USN yes you have the money but your brands stinks Albe Geldenhuys – FAKE = FRAUD. I hope this goes viral we must warn our friends and family.

  • Darren de Wet

    I have heard this rumours many a times. USN and DIs Chem makes so much money from this products. And we all know that Albe is also one of the owners of the Biogen range, meaning there must be just as much fake claims and cheap ingredients in that.

    The public needs to know the truth, if DisChem can’t be trusted in this section of their business, I will think twice before I buy any product from them again.

    There are so many reputable supple,ent companies out there, but USN and Biogen have got the money for the marketing.

    Maybe its time to spend less on marketing and more on research Albe. Its not all about results…

  • Craig Fairweather

    In response to John and Darren

    It is easy to single out a particular company or retailer however please consider the facts rather than emotions and personal views on particular individuals.

    The role of ‘policing’ the industry is not the retailer’s, this is up to government and the relevant authorities. It is common knowledge that the sports nutrition industry has been largely unregulated, making it difficult for retailers as there have not been clear guidelines to follow or measure products against. Our role is to provide consumers with the products they demand whilst doing our best to ensure quality of manufacture.

    Dis-Chem has been consulting with doctors and specialists for a number of years and with their input, now run an extensive quality assurance program, ensuring that every sports nutrition product sold in our stores is randomly tested for banned substances as well as for nutritionals vs. label claim. No other retailer offers this level of assurance and this is unheard of anywhere else in the world. Understand that the industry is dynamic, as is our program which is continually being enhanced and improved.

    When it comes to claims of efficacy, Dis-Chem continually turns down products with what we see as irresponsible claims. This said, without clear guidelines, this is a challenging area to police. We feel our approach is a responsible one but how far should this level of responsibility stretch? We are a retailer and regulatory oversight needs to be conducted by independent bodies such as the ASA. Dis-Chem will always co-operate and comply with the rulings of such a body.

    BIOGEN is an independent brand leader in South Africa and in terms of quality assurance, has more products than any other locally available company registered on the LGC (previously known as HFL) Informed Sport Program (every batch is sent to the UK and tested at LGC, an internationally accredited lab for banned substances).
    All products are also randomly tested for nutritional info vs. label claim and all manufacturers are audited to confirm quality of both ingredient and manufacturing process. No other brand locally available has this level of quality control in place, and it is something which the team prides themselves in.

    • Harris

      I do appreciate you taking the time to respond.

      However, it is my opinion that most of what you state is marketing spin and partially true but mostly nonsense.

      For example, Dischem sells a wide range of products that make claims that are scientifically implausible, and some contrary to current South African regulations. For example, Herbex Slimmers Cereal is contrary to R146 of the Foodstuffs Act. It is an illegal food. It should not be on your shelves and neither Herbex Slim Iced Tea – also a foodstuff. Herbex Fat Attack and their other slimming products have no proof of efficacy and their ingredients have been shown to have no efficacy, yet being sold to unsuspecting consumers.

      Biogen Tribulus is a scam – there is no proof that it can boost testosterone and Biogen were not able to produce any proof that it does. The ingredients have not been shown to be capable of doing so. Similarly for Biogen Testoforte and Biogen Adrenal Boost. This is a scientific opinion and not a rant.

      And Dischem does flout ASA rulings: for example, selling Erex [1], claims which have previously been ruled against by the ASA. [2]. Apple Cider has been shown time and time again to not work for weight-loss, and the ASA have repeatedly ruled against these claims for this ingredient, yet Dischem still sells this type of product.[3]
      In fact, one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on South African consumers, Body Detox Miracle Magnesium Oil, is still being sold by Dischem in spite of a raft of ASA rulings and sanctions having been imposed on the owner of the product.[6, 7] Not only are the claims nonsense, whistle-blowers have pointed out the unsanitary conditions the product was manufactured in.

      Who are the doctors and specialists who are assessing these products? I venture that they are not well known or “guns for hire”. Readers should be aware that Biogen is a combined USN/Dischem product: the point being that most USN products (and I venture Biogen) have little to no scientific consensus of having any efficacy. Worse, and similar to USN, if a product has an adverse ruling from the ASA, USN simply changed either the claims to other non-substantiated claims, or the name of the product. So in spite of Biogen not being able to prove that “testosterone boosters” are a theoretical construct being not proven to be a valid product following rulings against Biogen Tribulus [4] and Biogen Testoforte [5], they shut down these product and launch a new but similar one – Biogen Testogen, a product that simply has no robust evidence of being able to boost testosterone.

      I therefore challenge Craig to post evidence here from one or more of South Africa’s top sports scientists, e.g., Prof Time Noakes, Prof Mike Lambert, Dr Ross Tucker, Dr Jon Patricios or other top scientists, that support the claims being made for these or other Biogen products. I bet you cannot!

      But I venture that Craig will not be able to respond to this: In November 2013 the CAMS regulations were published basically making the Biogen products illegal CAM products and they have to be removed from shelves. When will Dischem do so?


    • Kevin

      @Craig – that is a hugely disingenuous response. The ASA is in no position to regulate the efficacy of any product – let alone a medical one. As a ‘retailer’ you are obliged by the CPA to ensure that the product you are selling does what is says it does. BUT: As a pharmacy – you are under a hugely increased responsibility to ensure that the products you sell are efficacious.

      The role of policing what you sell – and the claims you allow to be made in your stores – are entirely yours.

  • Roy Jobson


    Dischem pharmacies are registered with the South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC). This means that they, and all the pharmacists that work in them, are required to comply with the rules of the Council as made explicit in a ‘Code of Conduct’ ([Board Notice] BN108 of 24/10/2008, Government Gazette 31534); and also ‘Good Pharmacy Practice’ (GPP) in BN129 of 17/12/2004.

    Subsection 1.9.1(d) of BN108 of 24/10/2008 states ‘A pharmacist *must not* purchase, sell or supply any product where the pharmacist has any reason to doubt its safety, quality or efficacy.’ Pharmacists are unable to themselves check the safety, quality or efficacy of unregistered medicines (like the USN and Biogen products) because they are not given the data. They *must* therefore doubt the safety, quality and efficacy of unregistered medicines. The ASA can only ‘regulate’ advertising – and then only if a complaint is lodged.

    Section 2.22(e) of BN129 (17/12/2004) [Good Pharmacy Practice] states: ‘Medicines acquired and sold must comply with MCC requirements.’ Only the MCC can register medicines including USN and Biogen products in South Africa, so unless the MCC has verified the LGC quality testing you refer to, it cannot be relied on by pharmacists let alone consumers. This is quite apart from the safety and efficacy of these products.

  • Shaun

    Craig, why do you only stock a select few supplement brands? Especially knowing that there are better brands/products available, yet you stick to USN and Biogen. Does that not say something in itself?

  • Pierre Mare

    “The role of ‘policing’ the industry is not the retailer’s, this is up to government and the relevant authorities” yeah Right! It appears the medical retail industry is in the same denial as the govt and especially No1 with regards to “doing the right thing” – OK, so it’s not denial, it’s pure and simple GREED, which is a premeditated decision. So, when the stuff that rolls downhill comes rolling in , are you are going to take responsibility for your considered corporate decisions- doubt it, haven’t got the cojones.

  • Jake

    The problem with society today is that people are always looking for something NEW and different that will help them get to point b quicker, making it easier for them. Looking for some secret out there that will help them shed the weight or gain the muscle. Its human nature, if we are told you have to put in the work and it takes months, we dont believe it, we want to believe that there is an easier way. Its unfortunate but its the way it is.

    That coupled with all the marketing nonsense and adverts that are fed to us on a daily basis, things like lose weight fast and shed the pounds in days, just take this and this only enforces these beliefs whether we like it or not.
    Most of the supplement industry is based around money and marketing. In reality you do not need nearly as much supplementation as people think. There are many foods which can be eaten which will do just fine, as will as manipulating your calories etc.

    The point is that In order to sell and make money they have to advertise and in a sense make outrageous claims to get people hooked. This is in any industry from shampoo, to watches to almost anything. Granted this is to do with peoples health which needs to be taken very seriously, but at the end of the day its all about money.

    So basically we need to educate ourselves a lot more and know exactly what we are buying these days because of so much nonsense fed to us in adverts.

  • Craig Fairweather

    Hi Shaun

    At Dis-Chem we stock over 30 supplement brands including a wide range of both local and international products. We are always open to suggestions of new ranges, bearing in mind that the quality has to be taken into account as well as consumer demand. Please forward any suggestions you may have.
    With regard to quality we understand that their are perceptions of certain brands based on a wide range of factors and belief systems. We rely on our experience in the sports supplement industry backed up by an extensive testing program to make decisions as to what to stock. This includes testing of nutritional content vs. the label claim; manufacturer audits as well as testing for banned substances.

    • Harris

      Craig has posted what appears to be a reasonable response.
      However, this is part of an illusion and misdirection:
      1. The fact is that scientists throughout the world point out that there is no proof that over 95% of sport supplements have any benefit at all. Testing for banned drugs may protect the consumer from a banned substance but may mislead the consumer into believing the product has some worth when it has not.
      2. Dischem does random drug checking, not for every batch. There is a possibility of a banned substance therefore still getting past their checking. So an “extensive testing program” does not include whether the product has any benefit for you at all, only that that possibly the product does not contain a banned substance (intermittently), and a few extra parameters.
      3. Dischem sells a great number of non-sport supplement complementary medicines that are scams, some even ruled against by the ASA. For example, Miracle Magnesium, one of the biggest scams, is prominent on their shelves. Does one trust a company who sells one range of scams, from selling another range that they claim are not? Ethics, integrity and morals are not variable.
      4. Dischem claims that it checks for, among other, “nutritional content vs. the label claim”. Not exactly true – only for their own Biogen range. And they do not test for whether the actual ingredient listed is present, or in the correct dose.
      5. The CPA makes it absolutely clear that if Dischem sells a scam, that they cannot claim that they did not know better and were simply relying on the manufacturers’ claims – The CPA makes it clear that Dischem will be held responsible for selling the scam. Sadly the CPA, via the Consumer Commission, is not yet being implemented effectively.

  • monica

    My Husband was part of the first competition that usn had many years ago in that time he had a medical issue which has similar symptoms as a heart attack ….big drama we nearly lost him 36 years old his heart stopped, Tks goodness medical staff brought him back….Dr’s didn’t know what could have caused this on such a young man perfectly healthy! Few months later I saw an article in a magasin telling the storry of-sorry can’t remember the name- the guy that was sponsored by usn having similar incident in ICU- MARK PILGRIM . Do you think it was just a coincidence?

    • Harris

      There have been a number of documented instances of individuals having severe reactions following sport supplements. Circumstantial evidence has linked many to the adverse effects, but without certain further tests, e.g., having the individual use the product again to see if they react, in many cases one cannot claim this as a definite cause but more as a “probable” or “likely” cause. It is critical that consumers having a medical crisis inform their doctor of every supplement that they have been using.

      • Elaine

        @Craig Hopking
        I own the BFFM book as well as The Body Fat Solution (also by Tom) and has been following his regimen for a few years – I agree with you 100% – he knows what he is talking about. The problem is that you do have to work at it to achieve results – most people today are just too lazy of believe that taking a supplement will be a miracle cure! I have had amazing results with the BFFM system – “without all the crap we find on pharmacy/supermarket shelves”!

  • Craig Hopkins

    Fantastic book available called “burn the fat, feed the muscle”. A complete overview on natural nutrition to help the modern day athlete / bodybuilder without all the crap we find on pharmacy / supermarket shelves these days.

  • Neil

    We recently moved to Ozz and being an athlete and being used to always having a tin or two of USN product in my pantry I went out hunting for a local Ozz alternative, to my surprise….they don’t allocate two whole isles to “performance enhancing” products, you will be fortunate if you find 2-5 shelves with products on. That said those shelves contain proven products which have been scrutinized for years by the government, you can’t even import specific supplements due to the level of scrutiny,.

    My advice is to go back to the basics, have the pasta before a race and hydrate with water! Use the magnesium, potassium after and eat the protein like tuna and chicken for recovery. I find my body performs better during a race with water, lots of water and a few GUs, think the GUs are just a mental thing. Much cheaper to and at least you know what you putting in your body.

    • Harris

      Neil is correct, there are very few countries in the world where sport supplements take us so much shelf space. And yet other countries sports people often beat us – even without supplements. This is because they believe what research has shown which is that for most sports people, that all you need can be supplied by a balanced meal. There are few exceptions who may need supplementation.

  • Phillip

    The sad thing about all of this is, that the Crook and his team will still sell these products, and people will still buy these products.
    Walk into any Dis-Chem and pass their supplement section, first thing they want to sell you is Biogen. Evox as a local product are x 10000 better, but what i really wish is that people stop buying these products…

  • dawie

    why don’t these people SUE Verimark? I know of people that bought all there products and still don’t have six pack in fact they all still FAT. and they advertise its the best in the world until they have something new and the new add starts where Verimark tells you how shit the old one is.

  • Barry

    I think Albe Geldenhuys and J Arthur Brown are in the same league.

    I’ve experimented the effectiveness of supplements on myself after I found certain “energy drinks” gave me stomach cramps. I ended up doing races (cycling and offroad bikes) on only water and real food and felt no different to when I was using supplements. I know its not very scientific, but its proof enough for me. In the old days the guys used to race the Roof of africa drinking coke and water. I’ve spoken to Chris Froome and asked him what he uses, also said just water and some coke or a gel if he wants a sugar boost with real food eaten when he can.
    I just laugh now when I see sponsored athletes tell you how well a product works. “Epic pro will make you finish the day’s stage and give you energy for tomorrow”, pffft whatever man, all it does is contribute to more Ferrari’s for Albe. My mate recons Albe paid for his Ferrari’s with the crushed dreams of people.

    We’ve been lied to for way too long now, well done Harris for calling out these snake oil salesman.

  • Rudi

    The joke is on you! Dischem knows people are gullible and will buy anything that looks or sounds healthy, even though it’s not, cause that’s how they make their money. and then have the the medicines to cure you when all these other products hake you sick after some time.

  • Michael Cassel

    i know this is going to be controversial, but the people who buy those products deserve to be scammed, to lose weight to be healthy is not about the amount of supplements you take but rather the amount of physical and mental effort you put into the task, so from getting off your arse and excersing to saying no to that desert, that is what works. People always seem to look for the easiest shortcut rather than put in the effort. One the other hand if these products worked, how are they any different from steroids and the easy way out? So in my opinion if people can fall for the lies to take the easiest way out, well kudos to them. (It’s not just USN but all of them)

  • Johnathan

    Firstly, from my experience, most (not all) supplement are only creating a placebo effect.
    Secondly… is not only Dischem that sells USN
    and thirdly, I have heard of 2 young people (Younger than 35) who died mysteriously at a young age after they started using these supplement products, but obviously there are no proof so it is only speculation and no harm intended to USN or its owners. It might be a good idea to start regulating the industry.

  • Robert

    This has me very worried,just joined a Gym ,and it was recommended I use
    USN AMINO’s Muscle Support Stack bought at Dischem.With all this adverse publicity, how good and safe is it. The tablets are too big to swallow,I have to crush them.They also recommend .”Take 4to8 tablets2 to 3 times daily”???? are they nuts.I now take 4 crushed tabs after a workout.


  • Mike

    Look who is dating Miss Direction:-
    NutriTech accused of false advertising by USN…

    “Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN) has instructed its attorneys to lodge further official complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority against the advertising of NutriTech on the basis that, in its advertising, NutriTech intentionally misrepresents the quality and composition of its products, which is misleading to consumers. This follows independent testing and analysis across many of the locally available brands, which was commissioned by USN with a view to protect the reputation of the supplementing industry and the consumer perception of supplement product quality.”

    OMW!!! Really?

    • Harris

      We tested a similar USN product and found it to be exactly doing what NutriTech was accused of. USN are real hucksters and shysters, that is for sure. And what is more, show no embarrassment or remorse for their actions. Of course, Biogen (Dischem) are no different in many ways, were selling Biogen Slimmers Cereal – a product with no proof of working AND an illegal food, i.e., not compliant with South African food law.

  • Carl

    Who needs supplements anyway? People were much fitter and had better physique before these so called “supplements” came on the market.
    Supplement = Placebo

  • Edward

    @Craig if you take quality in account, why do you stock Ice Tea from Korea which is clearly below quality standards and supplement ranges such as USN which everybody knows are not up to par with quality and health standards. I will tell you why, because DisChem only cares about making money and not about the health of the customer. That is my opinion and will stay that way. Both above products are proof of that. The owner of DisChem and USN being friends and cycling together does not help, you know a person by the friends he hangs out with. It is all about making money and screwing over the customer as far as possible.

    • Harris

      I stand to be corrected, but I am under the impression that at one stage, many of the Dischem Biogen products were being manufactured for Dischem by USN. Or that the Biogen brand was a joint effort of the two companies. Same product, different claims.

  • ridah

    @ craig
    Appreciate the debate.least it’s being discussed and people are learning.

    One point though. If dischem uses independant people to test etc. And a variety of brands stocked. Why would nutritec not be sold? They are ISO 22000 approved.
    As far as i can see this is a step in the right direction. But a large company like biogen and USN (sic) cannot get certification?

    Is it They refuse to get certified cause They know They may be bending the truth? Considering everyone keeps saying its not a well regulated industry. Here is a brand getting certified. Why would the others not do that too??

    Fyi… Im not a nutritec fan… But a small company like that is making the right moves. Dischem and the likes doesn’t stock them… Raises many questions regarding the real agenda… A fast buck. Dischem…. Do the right thing and get Biogen approved.

    . That should change perception. And put many concerns to rest. AS I see it retailers refuse to take accountability. But then it is a business… Question is…. You in it for the long haul or quick buck

  • Annelize

    And then, Dischem today sent the followning sms to their customers. How naive do they really think we are? Something has to be done…..
    “Dis-Chem tests their sports supplements’ actual contents against the label claim. Don’t get caught out > #CHOOSESAFE. Opt out sms STOP”

  • Annelize

    @Phillip @Harris. Evox is a South African brand owned by Ascendis Health and manufactured in Edenvale under appalling conditions. Interestingly, Ascendis ( also owns other supplement brands like SSN, Solal, Bolus Distribution (local agency for Muscletech) amongst some others, some of which have also been found to have made false and outrageous label claims.

    @Harris. For Dis-Chem to send a text like that to their customers is irresponsible and they continue to cooperate in misleading the consumer because for a fact Dis-Chem does not test every batch of every SKU from every manufacturer or brand, which is the only way they can justify sending a text like that. Walk into Dis-Chem tomorrow, pull any line off the supplement shelf, post the name and batch number here and ask Dis-Chem to produce the lab test result, vs. manufacturer CoA vs. label information and I bet you they will not ne able to produce that.

    @Criag, up for that challenge?

  • Dave Brown

    Dis-Chem is just as guilty in misleading the consumer as these brands who continuously cheat consumers out of what they think they are paying for.

    Its time for the South African consumer to learn the truth about the local supplement industry and how Dis-Chem as the market leader in supplement sales, is aiding in misleading the consumer and is in contravention of CPA (consumer protection act).

    Protein based products form the core of most supplement brands product basket and due to the high selling price of protein based products, contributes to majority of supplement company’s revenue mix. The price of whey protein (as a raw ingredient) has over recent years increased astronomically resulting in the sharp increases in the retail selling price witnessed. It has increased so much that the retail selling price of 2kg whey protein has become out of reach for most South Africans. This combined with the competitive nature of the protein market (with all brands fighting for market share), brands are forced to keep the retail selling prices in reach of the general consumer, resulting in massive margin pressure for supplement brands. In order to maintain profitable margin profiles, most of these supplement brands fiddle with their product formulations, replacing the whey protein raw material with cheap fillers in order to drive the cost of goods down, resulting in increased margin. Dis-Chem know this yet they continue to allow these dodgy brands who’s proteins have been found by independent lab tests to not comply with label claims, to remain on their shelves – why? A very irresponsible act from the leading pharmacy group in SA, who’s stores are suppose to be a trusted environment that offer professional advise on healthcare and wellness matters.

    All this margin pressure and resulting unsustainability, the South African supplement market is becoming increasingly unattractive to local supplement manufacturers, hence the international expansion of a number of local brands like USN, SSN, Evox, Supashape and many more in search of strong foreign currency earnings against a weak Rand.

    Dis-Chem further compound the problem and continue to lead the consumer in a direction that does not at all benefit the consumer but only Dis-Chem in their ongoing arrogant and greedy quest for domination of the South African pharmacy market.

    Allow me explain:-

    Those of you who have bought supplements from Dis-Chem can bare witness to this. Ever wondered why those clueless salesmen on the Dis-Chem supplement floor (who by the way work for Dis-Chem) just about always first try force a Biogen, and if unsuccessful, then a USN product down your throat? Well firstly (as commented by someone else earlier), because Dis-Chem co-owns the Biogen brand with Albe or USN, hence more margin for Dis-Chem. USN as the second recommendation then not a surprise due to the co-ownership / manufacturing arrangement between the two brands. Apart from this obviously not benefitting the consumer, I suspect that a case for uncompetitive behavior can possibly be made here. It unfortunately doesn’t stop here. Each of the supplement brands on the Dis-Chem shelves incentivize the supplement salesmen on the floor to achieve sales targets, by so doing effectively paying a significant portion of their salaries, which by nature should not be a problem provided it was a fair and transparent incentive model driven by the consumers actual requirements. Sadly this is not the case since the Dis-Chem incentive model is so perverse by design, that it again causes the consumer to draw the short end of the stick. The model is designed only in the interest of Dis-Chem because the any commission earned across all brands is only paid to the sales person once 50% market share is achieved for Biogen and USN combined for any particular month in that store. Surely this behaviors places Dis-Chem in contravention of the CPA (consumer protection act)?

    @Craig, your pathetic attempt to further mislead and confuse consumers with Dis-Chem’s (widely and sneaky marketed) so called banned substance testing program, while the issue here revolve around label claims vs. actual content is laughable. All you succeeded to do was further confuse consumers in an already information overloaded, jargon driven and unregulated market. This poorly implemented banned substance testing program was designed only for the benefit of Dis-Chem by driving supplement sales into Dis-Chem, yet you are cleverly spinning it to lead consumer to believe its for their benefit. Your random testing program is hardly a failsafe model and cannot be trusted. To implement this program correctly, every batch from every brand should be tested, which as you know is not sustainable due to the cost of the tests having to be paid in pound sterling. Lets hope this does not come back to bite you when a professional athlete tests positive on a product bought from Dis-Chem. This will not only further destroy the credibility of the supplement industry but also the reputation and credibility of LGC who is the world authority on banned substance testing of supplements. The implementation of this program in the way Dis-Chem decided to do it is an irresponsible act from a market leader in healthcare and wellness.

    Why does Carte Blanche not investigate and broadcast this entire debacle and assist to expose these brands and retailers who are clearly in contravention of the ASA, CPA, label regulations, CAMS and foodstuffs acts?

  • Beverley

    So if all of these products are bad can anybody recommend a good whey protein?

    • Harris

      Here is the physiological evidence:

      • The largest increases in lean body mass are a little greater than 3 kg in 10 weeks of training. This translates into a lean body mass of 300 g per week.
      • Muscle consists of approximately 22% protein and 70% water.
      • Therefore if you want to add around 500 g per week to current body, this equates to approx 22% of 500 g = 110 g per week= approx 110 g / 7 days = 16 g per day (or 9.5 g)
      • This is equivalent to 18 g nonfat milk (2 cups) or 21 g chicken or 3 eggs (6 g each)


      • A normal male needs only about 1.2 – 1.5 gm of protein per Kg per day, i.e., an average 80 kg male, even if he is a sportsman, needs around 100 -150 g of protein per day. Do you know of any male eating only 100 g protein per day? So most people are already eating more protein than their body needs! Only in certain exceptional circumstances may a sportsman benefit from extra ingestion.
      • Therefore, it is clear that 100% Whey supplements are unnecessary, a waste of money, and put an abnormal load on the body which places a risk on your normal physiology!

      1. David Lightsey. Muscles, Speed & Lies. The Lyons Press. Connecticut, USA. 2006.
      2. Steven J Fleck, William J Kraemer. Designing Resistance Training Programs. Human Kinetics Publishers; 2nd edition (March 1997)

      Supplements would be truly natural if they provided nutrients that mimicked eating an animal whole. Most supplements do not get even close to doing that; and this includes protein supplements.” Ned Kock
      Brooks GA. Fahey TD, Baldwin KM. Exercise physiology: Human bioenergetics and its applications. 2005 Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill

  • Ernie

    Well done Harris. Dischem copies all selling products under the Dischem or USN brands. Biogen is a USN carbon copy. Dischem does not even own the product formulation (Intelectual property). They are screwing the small guys while smoking the Holy Pipe under the Dischem Foundation and 702. Smokim!

  • Dave

    Go Natural

    As a mountain biker I end up doing long days in the saddle for races and training. I do not use any supplements whatsoever – gave them up years ago and I perform better without them.
    Substitute as follows:
    Lose the Guu – use raisins or dates
    Lose the Carb drinks/ mixes – use potatoes and bananas
    Drink only water or maybe a rehydrate later in the day

    You really don’t need anything else.

  • Craig Fairweather

    Hi All

    I take note of all the points raised and despite some of Dis-Chem motives being questioned (this is always tough to hear) the very reason I engage on platforms like this is to understand where the concerns are in order to improve in these areas.

    I would like to address a few of the points above which may have been taken out of context or are inaccurate –

    Supplements are not necessary / ‘who needs supplements’-
    • I don’t suggest that anyone has to use Sports Supplements. Supplements are not to replace a healthy diet but are rather there to fill the nutritional gaps. You may indeed get all macro nutrients from food and this is 100% ok and preferable to many. However many people enjoy using supplements for the sake of convenience, price, taste or time pressure. This is the choice of the consumer.
    • As a policy we recommend that consumers consult a dietician first before proceeding on a supplement regime.
    • The issue of ‘product claims’ does need to be addressed further. It is very complex and not quite as simple and straight forward as it may seem. Believe it or not behind the scenes large strides are being made in the right direction on this. There isn’t a quick fix. @Harris I do believe you have made a solid contribution in this area and certainly brought some issues to light that may not have been.
    • Keep in mind that consumers play a large role in determining what remains on shelf – they vote with their support for products they enjoy. They will not continue to purchase a product they are not happy with. Demand is a key factor.

    Supplements are “risky” –
    • In over 20 years of selling sports supplements we are not aware of any instances documented in South Africa of individuals having severe reactions directly as a result of using sports supplements when using them as per the ‘directions for use’ and taking into account the warnings on the packaging .
    • Please bear in mind that if you have a pre-existing health condition you need to be very aware of what you consume weather it is food, drinks or sports supplements. I.e. a diabetic should avoid sugar etc.
    • I question why supplements are automatically assumed to be more “risky” than food. There are many risks associated with common foods including – pathogens, contamination, allergens, mould& yeasts etc.
    • I would agree that in certain cases supplements may be ‘over prescribed’. The choice of what to purchase is still however always up to the individual.

    Clarity on the Dis-Chem testing program –
    • Dis-Chem tests all sports supplement brands that we carry and not only BIOGEN or selected brands.
    • Dis-Chem tests each product twice a year for prohibited substances and nutritional content. Testing more than this is cost prohibitive and in fact considered unnecessary because these are verification tests. Note that food regulation only require that the manufacturer (not retailer) verifies their ‘nutritional content claims once every three years’ we are conducting these as an additional service to our customers.
    • For Professional Athletes, Dis-Chem stocks and recommends ‘Informed Sport Certified” products as part of a risk management strategy. Every batch of Informed Sport Certified” products are tested for prohibited substances before it is released to market.
    • In addition to prohibited substances, Dis-Chem does in fact test for nutritional information vs. the label claim which is what the recent issue in the press revolves around.
    • Please bear in mind that none of the testing we are doing is required by law, we are doing so in order to be more responsible. We are not aware of any other retailer performing this level of testing.
    • We have spent in excess of R8million rand in testing just over the past two years alone and only last year started to communicate this through marketing as one of the areas that was raised to be of concern by industry professionals was that consumers were not aware of where they could purchase tested product and what testing was being done.
    • Note that we have lost millions in revenue by not stocking various products and in some cases discontinuing products that didn’t reach our quality standards. These products are still freely available at various ‘health’ shops.

    BIOGEN products –
    • BIOGEN products are manufactured by third party manufacturers and not USN. All these manufactures are audited.
    • The manufacturing facility for the BIOGEN powders does in fact have ISO22000 certification. We require facilities of all our sports supplements suppliers to be audited against a GMP standard.

    Why doesn’t Dis-Chem list some of the “Smaller” brands –
    • There is a great misconception that ‘smaller’ brands are somehow ‘better’ quality. We have tested over 1000 products and we have not found this to be the case. Quality assurance is extremely expensive and generally more strictly adhered to by those companies with the necessary resources to do so.
    • Also note that we do not judge a brand only on its ‘size’ or ‘turnover’ we look at various factors –
    o Manufacturing facilities
    o Nutritional Testing
    o Consumer demand
    o Price strategy

    • Harris

      Thanks for contributing to this discussion.
      I will respond to a range of your comments later on.

      I have one question right now. In his response to this posting, Albe Geldenhuys has stated: “Products also undergo HFL screening in the UK”. On Sunday, Dis-Chem had a full page advert in the Sunday Times, which stated, inter alia, “Dis-Chem is the only South African retailer with quality verification from LGC, the world’s leading independent forensic dope-testing laboratory”.
      Is Dis-Chem trying to give the impression that only their products are tested for banned substances and USN is not? Or is this simply a sneaky way of trying to give the impression that other labs are not testing when they are?
      Please clarify

  • Patrick

    I saw some ear candles at a Dis-Chem nearby recently, and a pamphlet telling me to take some colloidal silver. Honestly you can’t make this stuff up.

    • Harris

      Dischem is selling ear candles?
      “Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Medical research has shown that the practice is both dangerous and ineffective[1] and does not help remove earwax or toxicants.[2] The claim by one manufacturer that ear candles originated with the Hopi tribe is also false.[3]” ( (Referencing Wikipedia simply because this description is fairly accurate)
      [1] Seely, D.R., Quigley, S.M., Langman, A.W. (1996). “Ear candles: Efficacy and safety”. Laryngoscope 106 (10): 1226–9.

      This is the problem with Dischem – they are schizophrenic – they want you to believe that their sport supplements above board while selling a whole range of other scam products. If you lack integrity and ethics in one part of your life, can you be trusted in another?

  • Craig Fairweather

    In response to your question regarding the LGC testing :
    Dis-Chem is the only retailer with quality verification from LGC. Our quality verification program also includes testing for nutritional content and manufacturer audits and not only the prohibited substance testing done be LGC.

    This doesn’t mean that individual brands can’t send specific products to be tested and certain of them do so. LGC have programs like informed sport (every batch checked)and informed choice (selected batches) for this purpose.

  • Harris

    Hi Craig,

    You remind me of Sir Walter Scott quote: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!”

    I want to take you up on some of your points:

    You say about Dis-Chem: “despite some of Dis-Chem motives being questioned (this is always tough to hear)” – surely the misleading slogan “pharmacists who care” is the source of the motives being questioned. We all know this is not true – unless it means a chain of pharmacies who care about extracting as much money as possible from consumers.

    Supplements are not necessary / ‘who needs supplements’

    I do not agree with you. Scientific evidence shows that for the very great majority of sportsmen and women, that a balanced meal fulfils most if not all their needs for macro- and micro-nutrients with some exceptions. Nutritional gaps are few. Biogen and other products do NOT advertise that they are filling nutritional gaps for these selected individuals, but that they are required for all sports people. In fact, companies, including Biogen, deliberately make claims that food will not supply sportsmen and women with all their nutritional requirements, a false claim, and only made to drive people to purchasing your products.

    Recommend that consumers consult a dietician first before proceeding on a supplement regime

    Would you therefore commit yourselves to only supplying sports people products on prescription from a reputable, registered dietician? Please note that I am not including so-called nutritionists, nutrition experts or nutritional consultants, such as Patrick Holford (whose products you stock):  and in South Africa, Vanessa Ascencao. This is not a regulated profession in South Africa, and here, as in other parts of the world, many people describing themselves in this way are most likely not to be adequately trained.

    Product claims

    No, this is NOT complex! Either there is evidence that the product works or not. Very, very simple. Large hypothetical strides are being made but not necessarily translated into products. There is no quick fix, but this does not therefore allow abusing consumers based on theoretical and hypothetical claims. This is the marketing behind Biogen, USN and others – hypothetical claims using ingredients that have mostly either no evidence or evidence showing no benefit.

    Consumers play a large role in determining what remains on shelf

    Although this is true, it is well known that deceptive marketing can drive consumers to buy products with claims that are sheer rubbish. Big Pharma have spent millions of dollars unsuccessfully seeking an effective weight loss product. Consumers flock to scams with claims which are nonsense, because of false claims being made by the company and desperation on the part of the consumer. Dis-Chem sells Biogen Slimmers Cereal, Herbex products, all without a shred of evidence (and in fact, ingredients shown to have no effect on weight loss. Do not even try to justify your selling of these scams by stating “[T]hey will not continue to purchase a product they are not happy with. Demand is a key factor”. You could just as well say “[T]hey will not continue to purchase a product they have been brainwashed into believing helps them.”

    Supplements are “risky” 

    You argue that over 20 years of selling sports supplements we are not aware of any instances documented in South Africa of individuals having severe reactions directly as a result of using sports supplements when using them as per the ‘directions for use’ and taking into account the warnings on the packaging.

    There have been documented cases of severe adverse effects in South Africa published in the medical literature. [1, 2] However, the fact is that post marketing surveillance in South Africa is dismal and so adverse effects poorly recorded and reported. The US FDA reports 50,000 health problems a year due to dietary supplements.[3] These often involve bodybuilding supplements.[4] The incidence of liver damage from dietary supplements has tripled in a decade. Most of the supplements involved were bodybuilding supplements. Some of the patients require liver transplants and some die. One third of the supplements involved contained unlisted steroids. [5] Doctors often do not recognise the association between an adverse event and a supplement being taken, and research has shown that consumers often do not want to admit to doctors that they are using a supplement or complementary medicine. This may apply to sports supplements too.

    But “risky” is not only about adverse health effects but also risk of exposure to banned substances, heavy metal contamination, and often overlooked, psychological issues. There is evidence that teenagers, not achieving the results claimed by sports supplements, escalating use to “stronger” supplements and then steroids, the so called ‘gateway effect’.

    Your point that you “question why supplements are automatically assumed to be more “risky” than food” . . . “ . . . are many risks associated with common foods including – pathogens, contamination, allergens, mould; yeasts etc.” misses the whole point and is a misdirection. This is about selling products with no proof of efficacy , e.g., Dis-Chems weight loss formula, making claims that are false, and taking money out of the pocket of consumers that should be spend on more appropriate. I have heard many reports of parents who spend R 2,000 to R 3,000 a month on supplements for their kids, hoping that they will become the next Springbok, Protea, etc. Does Dis-Chem (and other companies) not have any insight to appreciate that their marketing has resulted in this terrible situation. What are the ethics and morals involved here? The CEO of Dis-Chem is a pharmacist. Is he not bound by the code of ethics of his profession? It’s known as “good pharmacy practice”.

    What is the ethics of making money from selling false claims and promises?

    Clarity on the Dis-Chem testing program

    I suppose should admire Dis-Chem for spending “in excess of R8 million rand in testing” but I am cynic and I argue that these measures are a calculated and merciless approach of stealing business away from your competitors knowing your financial reward will be far greater than these measures which are simply attributed to being “the cost of doing business”.

    I reiterate my argument. Doing multiple tests, whether for banned substances or nutritional analysis, does not alter the fact that testing does not guarantee the products: tested faeces is still nothing but faeces. Similarly for sports supplements, no amount of testing will suddenly confer efficacy on a supplement that has no evidence of efficacy. It is my belief that the money spent on testing is mostly a marketing ploy – to sustain the selling of products of unproven efficacy. Claiming to have the interest of your clients as being the principle behind your marketing of your products is a misconstruction. If you really had their interest in mind, you would simply not sell them any unproven products, or deliberately mislead them in the process. Simple. This is about money. And making more and more money.

    1. 1.
    2. 2.
    3. 3. Skip the Supplements, Paul A. Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Sarah Erush, the clinical manager in the pharmacy department of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The New York Times, December 14, 2013.
    4. 4. Tainted Body Building Products, FDA, December 17, 2010.
    5. 5. Spike in Harm to Liver Is Tied to Dietary Aids, The New York Times, December 21, 2013.
  • Phillip

    Awesome response Harris…

  • Harris

    The above posting should be taken in conjunction with a new posting – a recent ASA ruling against Biogen ZMA Testo.

    Notably, I made the following point in my complaint to the ASA:
    “I also argue that in a previous ASA ruling against Biogen Tribulus, a product containing Tribulus Terrestris, that similar claims were made for that product (“testosterone Booster”), claims that the ASA ruled against. (Biogen Tribulus / HA Steinman / 20408). Yet this appears to have had no influence on Biogen’s attitude to the consumer and advertising, making a substantially similar claim for the use of this ingredient in this product: “ . . . significantly enhancing your testosterone levels. These include Tribulus Terrestris . . .””

  • Harris

    One of the USN products where USN simply changed the name of the product after an ASA ruling (USN Carb Blocker – USN Carb Binder), and although USN does not appear to have this product listed on their website, they still supply this product for sale to among other,, and Dis-Chem, “pharmacists who care”. EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) were asked to evaluate the evidence to support the claims for the ingredient used in the product and in a decision released this week (26 January 2015), concluded that “the evidence provided is insufficient to establish a cause and effect relationship between the consumption of the standardised aqueous extract from white kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and a reduction of body weight“. See CamCheck posting.

  • Harris

    Craig, it has been drawn to my attention that your product, Biogen Phenadrine Lipo Cut Zero, also contains this ingredient. Will you be pulling the product from your Dis-Chem shelves?

  • Harris

    Craig has defended their selection of supplements they sell. What about USN’s Green Coffee Bean supplement, claiming “Metabolism Support” and “Body Makeover Series”? What are they suggesting or claiming? Weight-loss? Certainly there is no evidence for “metabolism support”.

    Well, here is the cruch: The USA Federal Trade Commission has ruled twice against the weight-loss claims for green coffee beans, the most recent last week (fining the marketer over 9 million dollars:

  • john

    Well that is nooo surprise. I’ve been hearing this advertisement on radio and it struck me as odd that the lady sells “great tasting Biogen CLA”. I’ve used Formula Naturelle CLA with amazing effects. But great tasting CLA sounded very strange and now i know exactly why. Thanks for the heads-up. Been looking into supplements and i will definitely avoid any USN and Biogen. I shop at Clicks anyway after i found worms in my linseed from Dischem.

  • Moerse Kopseer

    Dischem Krugersdorp forced Biogen on me (sales talk – price / servings etc) getting massive headaches (moerse kopsere). Avoid. Demand my money back

  • Harris

    Update: 18 March 2015
    USN/Albe have threatened legal action against Hertzner if the do not implement a ‘take-down’ notice against CamCheck. This is discussed at length here

  • […] This post (from was subject to an invalid ISPA takedown notice from USN’s lawyers. The text content is repeated here in protest. No effort has been made to format this reasonably. Please visit the original site (subsequently moved out of the reach of the ISPA) for the full context. […]

  • Chris

    I took a usn “testosterone booster” ( can’t even remember what it was called ) a few years back ( think it was 2009 )

    Long story shot it caused me to black out, gash my chin open ( had to get stitches and still have the scar to prove it ) and chipped a bunch of teeth.

    I’m amazed they’re still going and it frankly seems they are a brand that purely thrives off ignorance.
    I still have the bottle saved somewhere and would LOVE to have the contents tested! I simply don’t know where or how.
    I would also love to assist anybody who’s taking legal action against them!

    I sincerely hope they fold!
    Just putting this out there for anybody interested

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