The alkaline water brand has been tied to a number of cases of hepatitis.

In one of the FDA's more confusing statements, on Friday, the agency warned that people should not drink, cook with, sell, or serve "Real Water"—that is, the alkaline water brand. Don't worry: You don't have to switch to fake water for your hydration needs, and you can still drink lowercase "real water" all you want. But if "Real Water" is your bottled water of choice, stay away for now: The brand has been tied to an outbreak of non-viral hepatitis.

Last week, the FDA announced they had been "alerted to five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis (resulting in acute liver failure) in infants and children that occurred in November 2020 with an unknown cause reported to the Southern Nevada Health District." The good news is that all these patients recovered after hospitalization, but the bad news for Real Water is that, as the FDA added a few days later, "The consumption of 'Real Water' brand alkaline water is the only common link identified among all of these cases to date."

Food And Drug Administration Headquarters In Maryland
Credit: Sarah Silbiger / Stringer/Getty Images

As a result, not only has the FDA advised people not to consume or use Real Water, but the company—which is based in Mesa, Arizona—announced on Thursday that they were "taking proactive steps to stop selling and distributing Real Water products throughout the United States until the issue is resolved."

When not caused by a virus, hepatitis—which is an inflammation of the liver—is often caused by a toxin such as "alcohol, chemicals, drugs or nutritional supplements," according to the Mayo Clinic.

But any link between Real Water and this hepatitis outbreak is far from clear. The company bills its product as "a premium, drinking water with 9.0 pH that utilizes the proprietary E2 Technology, making it the only drinking water on the market that can maintain a stable negative ionization." The packaging indicates that the only ingredients are "purified water and potassium bicarbonate" and that the water "goes through a 7-stage filtration process, including 2-stage reverse osmosis ozone and UV light treatment and other processes."

In general, alkaline waters—which are waters that have had their pH levels raised for the purported health benefits—have become relatively common, and Real Water itself has been on the market for years.