Soylent Recalls Its Bars After Reports They Made People Violently Ill

Soylent, a Silicon Valley startup that makes powdered and
liquid meal-replacement supplements like Soylent 1.6 and 2.0, has
temporarily stopped selling and shipping its Soylent Bars after
reports that they made people
violently ill.

Soylent said customers can receive a full refund by contacting
the company; if you have any remaining bars, you should discard
them. The company is investigating the bars’ safety but told
BuzzFeed News it had not determined a cause yet.

In a
prepared statement, Soylent wrote, “We are deeply sorry if
any customer had any negative experiences after eating a
Soylent Bar.” The company called the recall a “precautionary
measure.” Soylent previously told BuzzFeed News that it was
“very confident in the safety of the bars.”

The bar, introduced in August 2016 (coincidentally, the same
month as Samsung’s
recalled, exploding Galaxy Note7 phone), provides 12.5% of
a person’s recommended daily nutrients, according to Soylent.
It may also provide
vomiting, and
diarrhea, according to complaints from people who have
eaten it.

View this image ›

The bars are currently
unavailable on Soylent’s website. Image
from Soylent

ID: 9783577

Soylent has faced quality control issues before. As recently as
October 2016, it
delayed shipments of Soylent 2.0 because of mold. The
facility that produces Soylent Bars,
Betty Lou’s in McMinnville, Oregon, has not undergone a
foodborne biological hazards inspection since 2014, two years
before the bar was launched, according to the FDA’s online
database. This facility is separate from the ones that
manufacture Soylent 1.6 and 2.0. Back in 2014, the FDA for the
first time classified the Oregon facility as VAI, Voluntary
Action Indicated — meaning an inspection found “objectionable
conditions or practices,” but not ones serious enough to
require mandated action. (The FDA’s database covers inspections
from October 1, 2008 to March 31, 2016.) But Soylent says the
facility’s last FDA inspection was as recent as March 2016.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to the FDA and Betty Lou’s for
comment on this discrepancy.

Sources close to Soylent’s manufacturing process
previously told BuzzFeed News that the complaints about the
bars might be due to a sensitivity to sucralose, an artificial
non-caloric sweetener commonly found in products like Quest
Nutrition Protein Bars and Powerbar Reduced Sugar Bars. There
is three times as much sucralose in Soylent’s bar (about 30
milligrams) compared to the Soylent 1.6 drink powder. At this
time, Soylent has no plans to dial back the amount of sucralose
in the bar, but it may re-formulate in the future.

Philip Neustrom, who experienced two bouts of nausea and
vomiting after eating the bars, told BuzzFeed News that he
regularly eats Quest Protein Bars, which also contain
sucralose, with no negative effects.

In a previous statement, Soylent told BuzzFeed News, “After
these reports, we have retrieved remaining bars from our
consumers and have personally consumed many of the remaining
bars without adverse effects. We have also sent them for
further microbiological testing and all tests have come back

Reports of illness first emerged on Soylent’s own community
discussion board on Sept. 7, 2016, when user Raylingh started
the thread “Nausea
and vomiting several times after eating food bars.” Soylent
consumers piled in on the thread, including two who had
reportedly needed trips to the emergency room after eating the
bars. All told, 57 people reported troubling experiences with
the food bars. Soylent users on the Soylent
subreddit also complained of the same symptoms.

Raylingh told BuzzFeed News he consumes Soylent 2.0 every day
and has never had an adverse reaction to it. He also said that
daily reports of Soylent-Bar-induced illness started appearing
on Soylent’s forums in late September. He said he had to “chase
down” Soylent customer support for three weeks after his
initial complaint for the company to start investigating the
bars. He’s kept a
spreadsheet of the complaints.

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