B.C. health food store under fire for bogus COVID-19 treatment claims

A Port Coquitlam natural foods store is under fire for advertising supplements it claims prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A sign posted in the window of PoCo Naturals offers a variety of products, including zinc, quercetin and vitamins C and D, which it claims prevent the disease.

Canadian and international medical experts have been clear that there is no known prevention or cure for the novel coronavirus.

“If it’s false advertising they shouldn’t be allowed to do it, right?” said customer Ken Betchinski.

“I asked him how much it was going to cost. He figured it was about $100-150 and that’s before taxes. And so I asked him how long I would have to take it and he couldn’t tell me.”

Global News asked Dr. Stephen Chung, the store’s owner, how he could claim the supplements he is selling fight COVID-19.

“I’m a scientist, I’m an expert,” Chung said.

But Chung does not appear to be a medical doctor or an epidemiologist, advertising a PhD in nutrition and physiology.

Compounds such as quercetin are currently being explored as possible treatments for COVID-19, but so far there has been no conclusive evidence they have any effect.

The situation had Port Coquitlam’s mayor steaming on Thursday.

“It’s so wrong on every level. It gives me people some false sense of security that, ‘Oh I take some supplement and I’m immune,” he said.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth had similarly strong words for the store.

“People need to understand that the best way to avoid catching this virus is to follow the instructions of the provincial health officer.”

Not long after Global News spoke with Chung, bylaw officers with the city also paid him a visit and the sign has since been removed.

However, natural foods and supplement vendors are being put on notice.

“Don’t do this, it’s wrong,” said Farnworth.

“If people engage on this there will be further consequences.”


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