Sip Drink: Unnatural, Unethical, Farcical

If you were a dodgy plumber or made misleading double glazing adverts, you could expect Trading Standards to fine you and the BBC to make a Rogue Traders programme about your mischief. Make misleading and inaccurate health claims about a ‘health’ drink and the same BBC executives will be forking out license fee money on the product for their expensed lunch with their rocket, cous-cous and feng shui salad.

Sip Drink is a new bottled water, fresh on the market this year, and unashamedly aimed at women. At lunch today in a trendy salad bar in London I saw this new range on sale for £1.99 a pop. The bottle screams that it is “your way to better, beautiful skin.” This fruit flavoured water is telling us that it has ‘skin healthcare benefits’, is ‘natural and pure’ and is ethical and environmentally friendly.

And all this is bullshit.

Their web site tells us about ‘favourable reviews’ in the Times Style supplement and asks us to read AA Gill’s review. They are obviously hoping no one does. This is what Gill thinks of the health claims,

There is nothing in this stuff that will take you on for a single day longer than your allotted span. They won’t cure anything, stop you catching anything, make you a better shag, unless you use the empties as a butt plug.

So, obviously a ‘favourable review’ now is someone in The Times mentioning that your empty bottle might make an oxymoronically puritanical sex toy. Gill is comparing a range of similarly ridiculous health waters and says this specifically about Sip:

Sip says: “We all know water works wonders on our skin.” Well, most of us do. Some teenagers don’t. We use it for washing, generally.

Sip does not win the contest though. He describes the range as having “infantile and monosyllabic flavours”.

Grudgingly, we all agreed that if we really, really had to choose the best one, that is, if we were all crawling through the Sahara with tongues like carpet tiles and were confronted by the full range, then it would have to be Firefly.

What Sip is doing is playing on the old canard that we are all constantly living in a caffeine and alcohol induced state of permanent skin shrivelling dehydration, and we need to drink ‘pure’ water to correct this. Gill pricks the ‘alternative medical orthodoxy’,

This contemporary truism sprang from a misunderstanding of a piece of ancient research that measured the amount of liquid a healthy body needed in a day. Nutritionists, only just clever enough to be nutritionists, thought this meant pure water. It didn’t; it meant liquid. Which we get from all sorts of things, including everything we eat and everyone we snog.

Sip’s canards do not stop at the health claims. We are compelled to believe ‘sip’s eco ethics’ by reading that they “are proud that sip is made entirely in Britain so has a small carbon footprint: our skincare botanicals are sourced by an organic farm in Herefordshire, and sip is bottled in the Black country.”

Considering that Sip is no more than flavoured water, we have to question the environmental claims. A glass of water from the tap will cost you five thousand times less, require no plastic packaging and no transportation costs. Squeeze a 10p lime or lemon into your water and you can gave your vitamins and antioxidants too – but from a really natural source.

Sip was not invented by scientists or dietitians, but unsurprisingly by Kate Shapland, beauty editor of the Telegraph Magazine. Her 20 year’s of experience, as a beauty editor for glossy magazines, has apparently given her the ‘expert heritage’ in understanding of skincare to make this drink and these claims.

New Trading Standards laws came into force a few weeks back. I find it difficult to see how such nonsense could stand up to scrutiny under these new rules. I, for one, cannot wait to see one of these firms in court trying to explain how their claims have any relationship with reality and how they are not exploiting their customers.

11 Comments on Sip Drink: Unnatural, Unethical, Farcical

  1. I tried Sip once recently (it was bought for me by a friend trying to wind me up!). I found it horrid – cloying and sweet-tasting.

    Regarding that nutritionist no-no, coffee, I find this study reported today slightly cheering:

    Relationship of coffee consumption with mortality

    I know, I know, observational study, self reporting etc but I’m off to make myself a nice cup of coffee.

  2. Watching various forms of pro international sport recently my wife and I are struck by the physiological frailty of modern sportspeople. You can see them taking on fluid between standing for the National anthems and the kickoff. At every break in play there they are sucking water.

    Sheesh how do top flight marathon runners with drink stations every 5k or so manage? How about the Marathon des Sables through the Sahara?

    I remember once as a teenager I ran 25km on a whim and got no water until about 8km from home. It was overcast, still and about 20C. I did not die. Bit gutted I just missed breaking 3hrs, that still hurts…

    Nice to see AA Gill highlighting the misinterpretation of the total body water needs that has caused this modern affliction. Must away and ensure the blood level in my caffeine stream doesn’t get too high.

  3. Anyway pure water is crap as a rehydration fluid. Generally it is the wrong pH for a start. Contains no glucose source, no electrolites. Considering it’s LD50 I feel consumption should be restricted for safety reasons.

    Yes, I have a cup of caffeine now.

  4. Bother, make that 25miles, was thinking too hard about distance from water source (a stream feeding a horse trough since you ask) to home in km.

  5. I’m fascinated as to what impact the Consumer Protection Regs are going to have on this sort of thing – this is a clear, clear breach of them.

    Thing is, there’s tons of stuff that could fall under them. Homeopathy, for one. I would *love* to see a test case there.

  6. “[M]odels and people who want to live in Notting Hill Gate are, in fact, not like the rest of us, but a higher form of amphibian in constant need of hydration. If they don’t drink a litre an hour, they will shrivel into cockney market traders.”
    Hasn’t Gill spilt the illuminati beans on this?

  7. Bull**** aside; I have to say that none of the flavoured water brands in the AA Gill article came off particularly well, did they?

    As a fan of his acerbic wit, I’d expect nothing less from him and in fact think sip actually got off very lightly in his summation of them as ‘girly’.

    I thought his descriptions of Vitamin Water looking like ‘reused cough mixture’, Firefly Water as ‘scandinavian antifreeze’ and VWater as ‘chemically magic’ were hilarious !

    As far as I can tell, the big difference with sip and the other brands named by aa gill in that article is that sip do not use artificial preservatives etc – which the others do.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’d be concerned about using words like ‘unethical’ and ‘unnatural’ if that is the case (*playing devil’s advocate) as this clearly does not apply to the actual ingredients…

  8. Well lets be clear.

    What is natural about obtaining your fluid intake and vitamin needs through a £1.99 bottle of water that has been adulterated with antioxidants? This is not natural. It is the passtime of middle class know-nothings.

    What is ethical about claiming that your product can improve your skin tone”? And ethical about asking people to believe that getting your fluids and vits in this way is somehow good for the environment?

    Pure marketing bullshit.

  9. I wonder what AA Gill makes of the plugs for the dubious “foods of the future” bolted onto the bottom of his column?

  10. Hey – following up on this: I heard that this brand was bought by The Dragon Peter Jones no less! Mind you, can’t see the drink in any shops anymore – maybe he’s done us all a favour?!!

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