In early November, The Advocate reported on new downtown juice bar Hang N’ Healthy, a business which raised concerns about the health and safety of their products from local community members. More recently, the business licensure of the shop has been questioned by some of our readers.
As reported in the original article, Hang N’ Healthy is self-described as a Herbalife Nutrition Club. This directly ties them to the multi-level-marketing (MLM) company Herbalife, which sells health products and pays employees based on how much they sell.
Concerns were raised about Hang N’ Healthy in part due to their association with Herbalife. The MLM’s products have been accused of causing health issues like liver problems by the Israel Ministry of Health and hepatitis by the University Hospital of Bern in Switzerland and the Liver Unit of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, and the company has faced a lawsuit from the FTC due to their business model and has had to pay penalties due to a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
A research study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information from 2018 also reported that livery injury associated with Herbalife products remains unexplained.
Corvallis Store Spurs Further Concerns
Citizens also reported unease with Hang N’ Healthy specifically, citing a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing among employees, a post that suggested that players on the Oregon State University women’s basketball team utilized Herbalife products, which they took down after communications from the OSU Athletic Department, concerns about the safety of their products, the company’s tendency to block those who inquire about their business, and a general lack of transparency.
According to OSU Executive Deputy Athletic Director Dan Bartholomae, “The department was made aware of the photo and in consultation with Hang N’ Healthy it was taken down. Consequently, there was no violation of NCAA rules that took place.”
Now, we’ve learned that Hang N’ Healthy has not been licensed since its opening in August. When The Advocate brought this to the attention of Benton County Environmental Health, Environmental Health Division Director Bill Emminger communicated with the business about their lack of licensure.
“We talked through what their intentions were, if they wanted to serve sample size only, which would allow them to be exempt from licensure, or if they wanted to go with full drinks…It was never their intent to do sample size,” he said.
Businesses that only sell sample sizes are exempt from business licensure, but when selling full sizes, a business is required to be licensed.
When asked if Hang N’ Healthy has been selling full sizes since their opening, Emminger said, “Based on our conversation today, I think that’s what they’ve been doing since day one.”
However, Emminger attributes this to a misunderstanding on the state level.
“The confusion really happened at the state level between the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Agriculture,” he said.
To Emminger’s knowledge, the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Agriculture were under the impression that Hang N’ Healthy was selling sample sizes only, because companies connected to Herbalife often only sell samples of their products. Thus, they assumed Hang N’ Healthy was exempt from licensure, despite the business never intending to only sell samples.
Hang ‘N Healthy Responds
“As a new business, we reached out and fully disclosed our business plans with the city, state, and county,” said owner Taylin Yasinski when asked if she knew about licensing requirements when they opened. “They directed us what our licensing requirements were. We not only followed their direction but complied with every requirement requested. We have all the documentation to prove that we followed each request of theirs. We have always been in compliance and always will be with the state, city, and county licensing.”
Now, Hang N’ Healthy plans to pursue full licensure.
“We are a business, we do not make the rules, just follow them to our best ability,” Yasinski said. “So yes, whatever licensure the city request has, we will continue to comply.”
By Cara Nixon