2016 isn’t done yet as Soylent powder goes back on sale

It’s nearing the end of the year, but 2016 isn’t finished with us yet: Soylent powder has gone back on sale.

The company behind the VC-backed meal replacement powder pulled its formula 1.6 Soylent Powder from sale back in October, following complaints from some users that they had got sick after consuming it. The startup claimed less than 0.1 per cent of users had reported “stomach-related symptoms” from using the powder.

Earlier in the same month it also removed Soylent bars from sale for the same reason: customer complaints of sickness.

After an investigation into the cause of the issue, Soylent has now reformulated the powder to remove what it believes to be the problem ingredient — apparently identified as algal (aka algae, the mostly aquatic photosynthetic organisms that grows in marine environments and elsewhere).

Writing on the company blog, it says: “Powder 1.7 will also no longer include algal flour. With these changes, our team believes we have responded to the issues a small number of community members experienced after consuming Powder 1.6.”

Other changes to the powder’s formulation aim to tweak taste and texture, based on customer feedback — including what’s touted as a less sweet, more neutral flavor, by lowering levels of natural and artificial flavors, adding less sucralose and upping the salt (sodium) content a little.

On the texture front the new powder has less Xanthan gum — to create “the thinner consistency our customers had requested”, says the startup.

The Soylent bar, which also contained the problem whole algae flour ingredient, remains unavailable.

The snack bars only started shipping in August but were pulled from sale two months later after customer complaints. Soylent previously said its tests of the product came back negative for “food pathogens, toxins or outside contamination” — meaning it shifted its attention towards looking for food intolerances, finally now fingering algae as the culprit.

It’s not clear if Soylent intends to reformulate the bars as well and return the product to the market. We’ve asked and will update this story with any response.