Soylent pulls Powder as part of probe into customer sickness

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Meal replacement powder maker Soylent has halted sales of its main product as part of an investigation into why some customers have been getting sick after eating its products.

Earlier this month the VC-backed company pulled its snack bars from sale after reports that some customers had felt unwell after eating them. It’s now halted sales of the formula 1.6 Soylent Powder, saying it intends to reformulate the powder to remove suspect ingredients that are common to the powder and the recalled Soyent Bar.

In an update on its blog the company claims all its test of the bar came back negative for “food pathogens, toxins or outside contamination” — meaning it shifted its attention towards looking for food intolerances.

At that point it says it noticed “a handful of customers” — apparently less than 0.1% — who had reported “stomach-related symptoms” after consuming Powder 1.6 which it says were consistent with the problems reported by Bar customers. And is therefore identifying a “possible connection” because it says there were no similar complaints with the Soylent 1.5 formulation.

“This possible connection allows us to narrow the field considerably given there are only a few ingredients that are specific to only our bars and Powder 1.6,” it writes.

A spokesman for the company also noted that no complaints have been associated with its Soylent Drink and Coffiest products.

As with the Soylent Bar, the list of ingredients in Soylent Powder is a long one. Ingredients common to both include Soy Protein Isolate, Canola Oil and Isomaltooligosaccharide, as well as various salts and vitamins.

We’ve asked what the suspect ingredients are, and how many complaints it’s had about the Bar and the Powder, and will update this story with any response.

While the company is still not definitively saying it has identified the problem ingredients, it’s halted sales of Powder 1.6 to — in the spokesman’s words — “err on the side of caution”, and says it will be reformulating the Powder and the Bar to “remove the likely ingredients”.

It expects the reformulated products to be on sale by early in Q1 next year at the latest.

It adds that customers who have consumed Powder 1.6 without incident do not need to stop at this point, given the problem appears to be one of food intolerance, rather than contamination.

Soylent has raised around $22.3M in funding since being founded in 2013 with the aim of making access to good nutrition more efficient and lower cost.

Soylent users writing about their experiences on Reddit include a few complaining about stomach problems, including after drinking the Coffiest product which the company claims is unrelated to its current product recalls, and others more concerned about what they will consume while sales of the powder are halted.

“I had problems with Soylent 1.6 and had to stop. I’m hoping a new edition will fix the problems. I had stomach acid, cramps, terrible shits and all,” writes one.

“I consume 1.6 as 100% of my calorie intake during the weekdays. I do have stomach discomfort when i drink it too fast. I find it best to enjoy a glass of soylent over a 4 or 5 minute period,” adds another.