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Noni juice may have killed man in Spain

Published: Saturday, Feb. 9 2008 12:12 a.m. MST

PROVO — Residents of Spain were alerted last week to avoid consuming certain bottles of Tahitian Noni Juice while a health department there awaits toxicology reports for a man who died after drinking Noni juice.

According to reports in Spain, a 40-year-old man from Ogijares — located in the southernmost region of Spain— drank some Noni juice for breakfast and began to experience strange sensations in his mouth and blurred vision. He died shortly thereafter, and another family member, who also drank some juice, reported similar symptoms.

While investigators perform toxicology reports to determine the exact cause of death, Spanish health officials issued an alert to advise people to refrain from drinking Mexican-labeled bottles of Tahitian Noni juice.

The Utah County-based company Tahitian Noni International sent Eoghan Gallagher, directory of regulatory affairs, to meet with chief officers of the Regional Health and Safety Department last Friday in Sevilla, Spain. He learned the particular bottle of Tahitian Noni juice had a Mexican label that hasn't been in production since August 2004. This leads Gallagher to believe the man didn't obtain the bottle from Tahitian Noni's official Spanish Web site.

"We don't sell expired products," he said.

He also noted a few other irregularities. The bottle's lot code and expiration date were removed, he said. "It shows me the bottle was tampered with."

Company spokesman Andre Peterson said that Tahitian Noni doesn't sell Mexican-labeled products in Spain. Spanish customers can only buy products online. Since the bottle was past its expiration date and its origins are questionable, he said the company can't vouch for its quality.

"Based on the facts above, Tahitian Noni International strongly believes that the bottle of juice in question was purchased outside of their authorized distribution channels," Peterson said in a statement. "Therefore, they cannot confirm that it underwent the normal, strict quality-control procedures."

Peterson said the pending toxicology report will paint a clearer picture of the circumstances surrounding the man's death, as well as the contents of the bottle, which will help company officials to "properly inform their clients and to take the necessary measures to avoid this" in the future.

Tahitian Noni International has more than 600 employees in Utah, with headquarters in Provo and a bottling plant, warehouse and research facility in American Fork. As of 2005, Tahitian Noni had 1.3 million distributors in 73 countries and an annual revenue of $550 million.


E-mail: jdana@desnews.com

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