South African consumers are in the dark after Dis-Chem promptly removed the pre-workout fitness supplement Jack3d from their shelves on 26 November.

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This just days after Health24 initiated an investigation into whether the version of Jack3d on sale online from a number of SA vendors, as well as the Dis-Chem group of pharmacies, contained the illegal ingredient 1-3-Dimethylamylamine – DMAA or Methylexaneamine, also known as Geranium extract (see below for other namings).

What spurred our investigation is the news that, on 17 November, USPlabs (who manufacture and distribute Jack3d) and its executives were indicted by the US Department of Justice on 11 charges relating to the manufacture and sale of, among other products, Jack3d.

The indictment alleges that USPlabs engaged in a conspiracy to import ingredients from China using false certificates of analysis (COAs) and false labelling, and lied about the source and nature of the ingredients after putting them in the products.

Download the charge sheet here

The US government argues that this deception was deliberate.

“USPlabs and its principals embarked on an unmistakable course of conduct where, starting at least with DMAA, they imported numerous shipments of substances intended for human consumption using false and fraudulent COAs, and other false and fraudulent documentation and labeling.”

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The indictment also alleges that the defendants sold some of their products without determining whether they would be safe to use.  In fact, as the indictment notes, the defendants knew of studies that linked the products to liver toxicity.

In South Africa Jack3d is distributed by Bolus, who on its Facebook profile states that is the exclusive South African distributor of Jack3d. It is also Dis-Chem’s supplier of Jack3d.

Ron Read, the Chief Operating Officer of Bolus Distribution told Health24 in an email that the Jack3d they supplied Dis-Chem was the international version, imported from USPlabs in the US. He states that the DMAA version was never supplied to Dis-Chem, and neither did Bolus ever import the DMAA version.

He assured Health24 that Jack3d sold in South Africa (by himself and Dis-Chem) is safe for consumption.

Read told Health24 “There are two versions of Jack3d, a U.S.A Version (which contains Yohimbine) and an International version. The Jack3d version which you are referring (containing DMAA) was a U.S Version which was discontinued in 2012 and was never imported by us.”

Read has assured Health24 that he would forward Health24 a copy of the COA on Monday 30 November.

Health24 found that the product’s description section on Bolus Distribution’s website implied that Jack3d (as sold on the bolus.co.za website) contains 1-3-Dimethylamylamine HCI (DMAA), which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list.

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The Description tab has since been removed. DMAA is also not listed on the Supplement facts tab, which shows the product label. When questioned about why it was removed, Read said: “The website had been revamped recently and the Web developers used information found on the net to cover the products description.”