Sir Ray Avery’s latest product, a meal-replacement nutrition bar containing tiny molecules that can be absorbed by children “without the need for digestion”, has been delayed again.

The ‘Amigo Bar’ was to have been produced and distributed throughout the Pacific last year – then, in June, Avery’s organisation Medicine Mondiale announced a tie-up with the Eat My Lunch company to instead send it first into New Zealand schools from this month.

A detailed fundraising effort is on the website, seeking donations of between $25 (to feed five kids for a week) through to $1200 (to feed 10 kids for six months), and a special marketing pack for schools to raise money to fund the bars was also developed.

Avery has told Newsroom the launch date is now October, but has not responded to a question on whether the bars are actually in production yet. Eat My Lunch claims the venture will go ahead as planned, despite the delay.

However a food manufacturer, Tasti Foods NZ, which was cited in two Charities Commission filings in 2016 and 2017 as partnering on the project has told Newsroom it is not involved in producing the bars. Tasti refused to confirm or deny its earlier involvement in a “technical collaboration” and “pilot-scale production trials”.

A company listed in the draft schools pack as a sponsor has told Newsroom:  “Any discussions we have had regarding the Amigo Bar are commercially confidential, however [we are] not, nor have we been, a named sponsor of any campaigns associated with the bar.” 

The promotional material on the Medicine Mondiale website says of the bars: “The natural immunogenic peptides in Amino Natural also help to repair the damage to the child’s stomach lining and because Amino Natural is very high in branched chain amino acids, this means more protein may be absorbed from other local dietary foods.”

Unlike medical innovations developed by the Avery organisation, the bars are not classed as therapeutic products and do not face such stringent testing and verification of their benefits.

The Eat My Lunch venture was announced on June 8, saying it aimed “to ensure Kiwi kids receive essential nutrition required for healthy growth and mental development”.

“Amigo Bars is the brainchild of Sir Ray Avery who is also on a mission to ensure no Kiwi kid goes to school hungry.”

Avery said teaming with Eat My Lunch meant “we can distribute free Amigo Bars into schools” and the press statement said distribution would begin in schools in August.

Eat My Lunch’s founder Lisa King told Newsroom: “There is no change and the partnership is going ahead as planned as it fits well with our goal to provide Kiwi kids with a nutritious, balanced lunch so they are in a better place to learn and reach their full potential.” Eat My Lunch did not address a question on whether any bars had been manufactured yet.

Avery told Newsroom on July 18 the bars would start in schools via Eat My Lunch in October. He added: “Thankfully nutritional products are a lot less difficult to get to market than Class 11 medical devices.”

Newsroom science editor Eloise Gibson wrote of the bars in our full story on Avery’s products and promises last week.

She reported: “The Amigo Bar has received upbeat media coverage for its use of kiwifruit enzymes. Right now it’s being taste-tested, says Avery, after being tweaked to get the sugar content down. Essentially, on reading the ingredients, it’s a muesli bar with added claims to healthiness on account of amino acids and vitamins. The ingredients list starts with oats, sunflower seeds, berry puree, vegetable oil, sugar, chicory, wholemeal wheat flour and oat bran, with added amino acids, vitamins and minerals.”

Tim Murphy is co-editor of Newsroom. He writes about politics, Auckland, and media. Twitter: @tmurphynz

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