Albe Geldenhuys / USN responds to CamCheck posting

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Posted 26 January 2015

On the 9 March 2014, CamCheck published, “Albe Geldenhuys of USN, a master scam artist“. This article was picked up by TheHub (a cycling website) which resulted in a flood of visitors to CamCheck, and appears to have reached the attention of Albe Geldenhuys of USN.

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 (opens in a new window)
 

USN has posted a response to their Website which states the following (my response follows):

2015-01-23
Dear Clients, Colleagues and Stakeholders,

USN would like to state the allegations made in the article posted on www.camcheck.co.za are categorically unsubstantiated and defamatory. This site is renowned for the author’s malicious views, and his personal vendettas against nutrition brands, and other companies who conduct business outside of the ethical medicines arena.

For many years, USN has been, and continues to be, the leading advocate in South Africa for safe and effective supplement development, global reach manufacturing, warehousing and ethical retail. USN has been cleared of the assertions referenced within the main body of this article as a course of resulting ASA investigations, where USN has provided sufficient and substantiating evidence to support the research material and product development processes.

Nutritional information and label claims are made according to the respective laws at the time, and they remain substantiated and correct at the time of print. Furthermore, USN has been committed to updating all label claims, nutritional information and product offerings as the dynamics of the relevant laws changes and adapts. This results in further protection of consumer rights, something which we wholeheartedly support.
USN has a complex research and development model, and the raw ingredients as well as the finished products are tested regularly by a third party, independent, internationally recognised and accredited testing laboratory. Products also undergo HFL screening in the UK. The organisation is compliant with both legal regulations and ethical obligations in the manufacturing of sports supplements. Please visit our website for more information and facts: www.usn.co.za.

We have initiated the due legal processes necessary to have the allegations removed from www.camcheck.co.za website. We have always been, and continue to be an ethical company, with standards above the industry requirements. Please feel free to contact us on [email protected] or 0861111876 should you have any further enquiries.

Regards,
Albé Geldenhuys
Chairman & CEO: USN

Firstly, credible sports scientists throughout the world agree that approximately 95% of sport supplements (ingredients) either have no proof of efficacy or have not been shown to work. Secondly, as far as I know, there is not a single peer-reviewed study showing that any product of USN has efficacy.

Let us pick USN’s statement apart.

1. “. . . renowned for the author’s malicious views, and his personal vendettas against nutrition brands, and other companies who conduct business outside of the ethical medicines arena.

Is Mr Geldenhuys arguing that USN is a company who conducts business outside of the ethical medicines arena? This is ambiguous. Many people in the pharmaceutical industry refer to branded medicines as ‘ethical medicines.’ And he is in the pharmaceutical business. But is he perhaps unwittingly conceding that he conducts business outside of an ethical framework?

Mr Geldenhuys  offers nothing to support his allegation of my so-called ‘malicious’ intent. Just because I criticise scam products that I become aware of, doesn’t make me malicious – in fact the opposite – I am attempting to protect the consumer from harm, no matter who the seller, or what the product is.  I have no personal vendetta but point out the scientific validity of these companies claims. It is called free speech and is valid, as long as my claims and arguments are valid and can be scientifically supported.

Mr Geldenhuys makes a handsome profit from selling these products, I do not earn a cent from pointing out the invalidity of the claims. Mr Geldenhuys  makes it clear he has known about me for some time. It is interesting that he has been awfully quiet since March. If the post was ‘defamatory’, why is he only taking ‘action’ now?

Mr Geldenhuys  may not be aware of the The Streisand effectthe phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

USN DID change USN’s Fat Block to Fat Binder, then to Waterslim, because of and after ASA rulings. Same ingredient, different name, different claims.  USN claimed their 100% Whey powder had 75.1 g of protein per 100 gms of powder but actually contained 62.3 g. What about the nonsense USN “Bio-Field Balance Bracelet” modeled on the Power Bracelet scam?

2.  Mr Geldenhuys writes; “For many years, USN has been, and continues to be, the leading advocate in South Africa for safe and effective supplement development, global reach manufacturing, warehousing and ethical retail. USN has been cleared of the assertions referenced within the main body of this article as a course of resulting ASA investigations, where USN has provided sufficient and substantiating evidence to support the research material and product development processes“.

Not actually true. Advertising Sanctions were pending against USN for one particular product: they withdrew the product from the market. Other products were withdrawn or claims amended after complaints were laid with the ASA. The claims made in the body of my posting are accurate, USN simply changed the name and claims of the product as claimed. It is true that in some instances, the complaint against USN was dismissed but this was not necessarily because USN could substantiate the claims, but that the complaint was deficient. And importantly, the majority of USN’s products’ claims have never been scrutinised by the ASA.

USN has NOT “provided sufficient and substantiating evidence to support the research material and product development processes“. At best, they have provided cherry picked evidence that a non-scientific body such as the ASA could evaluate out of context of the whole body of evidence.  Not a single highly credible sport scientist will support the claims for most of USN’s products. I am thinking of top South African sport scientists and sports dieticians such as Dr Ross Tucker, Prof Tim Noakes, Prof Mike Lambert, Dr Jon Patricios,  Shelley Meltzer, Dr Glen Hageman, Dr Amanda Claassen-Smithers, among others. The defense against an action of defamation would be that the statement is true and for the public benefit, or that it is fair comment on a matter of public interest.

3.  Mr Geldenhuys writes: “USN has a complex research and development model, and the raw ingredients as well as the finished products are tested regularly by a third party, independent, internationally recognised and accredited testing laboratory. Products also undergo HFL screening in the UK.

“. . . complex research and development model . . .” Really?!

Products tested regularly? Remember how USN contaminated products almost ruined two springbok careers? And not exactly as shown as recent as October 2014 where USN 100% Whey was found to be short of claims. Firstly, this is a recent development and I am informed that not every batch of USN product is tested. Worse, this is misleading for no matter how much testing USN undergoes, the main question is this: is there sufficient evidence to support the efficacy claims for all USN products? How about 80%? No. Has a 1% of USN products EVER been tested to see whether the claims are achievable? No. All major sports science bodies throughout the world argue that the claims made for approximately 95% of sports supplements/ingredients are nonsense. Mr Geldenhuys is confusing tests for quality and perhaps hidden banned substances, with tests of efficacy.

4.  Mr Geldenhuys writes: “Nutritional information and label claims are made according to the respective laws at the time, and they remain substantiated and correct at the time of print.”

No, not exactly. USN operated in a regulatory vacuum, under the guise of a “complementary medicine”. And I am sure they were aware of ASA regulations but constantly were found at fault. CamCheck started listing ASA complaints after 2011, but ASA complaints were laid against USN products even before that. But no laws sanctioned or gave USN products proper legal status. Now the new draft Complementary Medicine regulation may result in USN’s products being ‘banned’.

5.  Mr Geldenhuys writes: “We have initiated the due legal processes necessary to have the allegations removed from www.camcheck.co.za website. We have always been, and continue to be an ethical company, with standards above the industry requirements“.

Mr Geldenhuys wants to squash my (and your) comments – he is the CEO of a company that brought you among other, oxygenated water,  USN’s Fat Block product which became Fat Binder after an ASA ruling, and then  Waterslim when the ASA ruled against the former name. Same ingredient, different name, different claims. This is a company that brought you a number of other products with dubious claims, and will try to prevent that from being exposed. This is about creating illusions and misdirecting.

Can he prove that all his products have always been produced in accredited facilities or MCC acceptable conditions? No he cannot, we have the evidence that they were not all.

Will he able to counter my claims by contradicting the experts I have mentioned above? Unlikely. Does he want you to know the truth? Absolutely not.

CamCheck posts related to USN 

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10 Responses to Albe Geldenhuys / USN responds to CamCheck posting

  1. Harris 26 January, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    Two Tweets by Dr Ross Tucker (@ScienceOfSport):
    RossTuckerTweet2

     

    RossTuckerTweet1

  2. Endria Esterhuyse 27 January, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    Usn is a bunch of crap, my partner was sponsored by them … till he saw how they made the products and he declined the sponsor. Their marketing is fabulous … they use all the fitness and bodybuilding individuals to market their nonsense, they almost always don’t use it … they just want the exposure … so they hand it out … i know this because i know plenty people who they sponsor … its a tub of sugars and thats that … personally have spoken to tons and tons who said they don’t come close to usn … just the naive people still fall for their bull.

    • Dave 9 February, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      so you’ve spoken to “thousands and thousands” of people on USN? Your statement that its tubs of sugars is based on what factual evidence? Im not saying supplement brands are all without some flaws, but its these types of responses that shred credibility for brands without having knowledge to back it up.
      I know a few top athletes who use their products daily, and DONT get paid for it, they are not under any obligation to use it.
      In an ideal world we’d all love to eat chicken breast and salmon all day everyday but how many can afford that.
      The author here says Tim Noakes wont support USN claims..the same Tim Noakes who says you must flog down heavy fat and protein all day and that’s been scientifically researched I assume?

      People who dont like supplements shouldnt take them, fair enough, but its like shouting out about your religion..just becuase you believe/dont believe something, dont try shove it down peoples throats as you being right.

      • Harris 9 February, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

        @Dave
        Tim Noakes is recognised as an expert in sports science, not in general nutrition and obesity. The argument from the scientific community is not that the Banting does does not work (there is evidence for certain groups that it does), but that he makes a range of other assertions without sufficient scientific evidence, i.e., cherry picks his data, and extrapolates his arguments to ALL consumers.

        What is the scientific support for most of USN’s products? Ziltch. Not a single product has scientific evidence to support the claims. Many have some degree of support for individual ingredients, but what happens when one mixes two ingredients? In some cases, they are antagonistic, in some additive, in others synergistic. For example, mixing the acid hydrochloric acid in the right proportion with sodium hydroxide, gives you water. Wrong mix, the product remains risky. Same with all medicines, even Big Pharma products.

        The sports scientist, David Lightsey, points out in his book, Muscles, Speed & Lies., how using a ‘fat burner’ while bodybuilding, often makes people believe the product is beneficial when the effects are solely due to the exercise and not at all due to the supplement. Yet the user attributes it to the supplement. This is a very well known mechanism occurring in physiology and medicine, called Confirmation bias.

        This posting is not “shouting out about your [my] religion” or “shov[ing] it down peoples throats” – this is about pointing out to consumers that the messages that USN shoves down peoples throats of how effective their supplements are, has no basis in reality. This is about giving consumers an alternative argument, based on evidence and science, to allow consumers to make fully informed decisions. What consumers decide to believe thereafter is their choice. Without CamCheck, they only had USN’s claims of being ‘scientifically formulated’ (bullshit), and that their products has efficacy. CamCheck simply shows that the claims are without evidence.

        And Dave, give me an alternative and reasonable explanation for this: USN sold a product that claims to block fat (USN Fat Block). When the ASA asked for proof that it works, USN could not. USN simply changed the name to USN Fat Binder. When the ASA asked for evidence that the product works, USN could not (same ingredient). USN simply changed the name to USN Waterslim, and instead of claiming to block fat, was now claimed it was a diuretic. Are you defending this?

    • Johnny 4 December, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      Interesting you should mention that. During the wines2whales ride this year it so happened that my neighbour (tent next to mine) is sponsored by USN (he is an actor) and on the final morning he handed a tub of some type of USN protein powder to me and said “I get 100’s of these every month, don’t use it…”, I respectfully declined and offered it to my race partner.

      I’ve met Albe and out of respect for myself I won’t touch any of his products. As for your claims that it is tubs of sugar, that is your opinion. That some of their sponsored individuals don’t use their products and hard it out – I have first experienced this first hand.

  3. tanya 27 January, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    usn is a scam

  4. Marc Hugo 25 February, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    Well, Haris, I was about to read your rebuttal in its entirety when right at the start you made the unforgivable error (and it is nothing short of that) that Mr Geldenhuys is in the pharmaceutical business. Next you’ll be saying he is making medicine. Sports supplements are food, not medicine and the categorisation of some of them as alternative medicine or complementary medicine is the sort of claptrap invented by ignorant lawmakers eager to embrace the possibility of more control and more cash for the state. I realise than in a single stroke I have kicked at your foundations by insisting on the recognition of this fact considering that your entire occupation centres on asserting that every CAM (sic) is snakeoil. I’m all for efficacy but I am above all, a free marketer that will not abide paternalistic protectionism in the marketplace.

    • Harris 25 February, 2015 at 8:21 am #

      @Marc

      Readers should appreciate the context in which Marc is making his comments: he sells supplements (Titan Nutrition).

      Throughout the world, all passing ones lips are regulated either as a food or a drug (which includes supplements). South Africa follows international practice and sets a definition for a foodstuff and for what constitutes a medicine. The operative phrase for a foodstuff is “ordinarily eaten or drunk”. Sports supplements are not. As they are not food, and fit the definition of a medicine, he is in the “pharmaceutical business”. Since his products are not foods, he is not in the food business. Since when is creatinine, CLA, beta-alanine, and the other ingredients in their products, food? (with some exceptions, e.g., whey)

      DEFINITION “Foodstuff” (according to the Foodstuffs, cosmetics and disinfectants Act 54 of 1972):
      any article or substance (except a drug as defined in the Drugs Control Act,  1965 (Act No. 101 of 1965)) ordinarily eaten or drunk by man or purporting to be suitable, or manufactured or sold, for human consumption, and includes any part or ingredient of any such article or substance, or any substance used or intended or destined to be used as a part or ingredient of any such article or substance

      DEFINITION “medicine” (according to Act 101 of 1965):
      any substance or mixture of substances used or purporting to be suitable for use or manufactured or sold for use in-
      (a) the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation, modification or prevention of disease, abnormal physical or mental state or the symptoms thereof in man; or
      (b) restoring, correcting or modifying any somatic or psychic or organic function in man,
      and includes any veterinary medicine

      WITH amendment R. 870/2013:
      General Regulations made in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (ACT NO. 101 of 1965), amendment R.870/2013:
      “Complementary medicine” means any substance or mixture of substances that –
      Originates from plants, minerals or animals;
      Is used or intended to be used for, or manufactured or sold for use in assisting the innate healing power of a human being or animal to mitigate, modify, alleviate or prevent illness or the symptoms thereof or abnormal physical or mental state; and
      Is used in accordance with the practice of the professions regulated under the Allied Health Professions Act.

      The draft includes “health supplement”

  5. Helen L. 14 March, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Dear Dr. Steinman,

    Apologies for leaving a comment here, but I couldn’t find any other way of getting in touch with you.
    On my recent trip to South Africa I came across of 2 companies and was shocked by their trading activities and statements they make.
    One of them is SLNKO – http://www.slnkolife.com/ who claims that their products provide “total block” from the sun rays and “100% total barrier to the sun”…(???)
    Another one is Kwena Crocodile Oil -http://kwenaproducts.com
    This company based in Cape Town went even further and claims their products:
    “KWENA Crocodile Oil Balm can be used as a moisturiser to treat dry, cracked or flaky skin. Its natural concentration of Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids reduces visible lines and wrinkles, stretch marks, blemishes, pigment changes and discolorations.
    To reduce scars. The natural antibacterial healing properties found in crocodile oil make it an excellent treatment of hypertrophic scarring (raised scar treatment) and acne as it helps to minimise scarring.
    To treat wounds. Tests have found that the anti-microbial properties present in crocodile oil help to rapidly heal wounds, burns, cuts, sores, sunburn, lacerations and lesions, as well as ulcers and blisters.
    To soothe irritated skin. KWENA Crocodile Oil is a soothing remedy for irritated skin, diaper rash, itching, insect bites, and razor burn.
    To alleviate pain. The natural anti-inflammatory properties of crocodile oil help to soothe sports injuries, sore muscles, arthritis, sprains, stiffness, joint pain and gout. Crocodile oil also helps with the rapid healing of bruises.
    To fight infections. Crocodile oil is an effective remedy for the treatment of both viral infections and fungal infections, such as ring worm and athlete’s foot.
    For chronic and reoccurring skin problems, such as warts, dandruff, rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema (atopic dermatitis).
    Safe for use on dogs. As KWENA Crocodile Oil Balm accelerates the skin’s healing process, it is highly recommended for all kinds of injuries, allergies, sores, wounds, muscle and joint pains on dogs. Its 100% safety makes it a unique, alternative, chemical free, dog friendly product, very well tolerated by dogs and with the same vast area of use and effectiveness as in humans.

    Dr Steinman, you are doing great job curating this website and making consumers more aware that not every product sold is clinically approved.
    I should be grateful if you look into the trading activities of this “brands” and the claims they make.

    Many thanks in advance and kind regards,

    Helen

  6. Harris 18 March, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    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

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