Soylent is halting sales of its meal-replacement powder because it has made people sick
The buzzy US startup announced in a blog post on Thursday it is stopping sales of the powder, designed to be mixed with water and drunk instead of eating solid food, because a "handful of consumers" have fallen ill after consuming it.
It's a big setback for the company, which has already pulled its Soylent Bars earlier this month after they made some customers violently ill. Soylent says that the recalled bars share some ingredients with the most recent "1.6" version of its powder, and, as a result, it is reformulating both products to remove the "likely ingredients" that may be to blame.
New versions of both products should be available in the first quarter of 2017, it says, "if not before."
Interestingly, Soylent says its tests have come back "negative for food pathogens, toxins or outside contamination," and it is now investigating whether a food intolerance among some customers to particular ingredients is to blame.
Soylent also says that only a tiny minority of powder customers have fallen ill: "During our review, we noticed that a handful of consumers (less than 0.1%) who consumed Powder 1.6 over the past several months reported stomach-related symptoms that are consistent with what our Bar customers described."
Launched in 2013, Soylent builds what it calls "Food 2.0": Food products that give their consumers all of their daily nutrition, freeing them up from having to eat "traditional" food. It is beloved by many Silicon Valley techies for its efficiency and visionary branding.
The news that Soylent powder - its original and most recognisable product - is causing issues with some people risks damaging the public perception of the experimental company.
However, Soylent isn't officially recalling its 1.6 powder, or telling customers to throw their supplies away - a move it took with the affected bars.
"If you have used Powder 1.6 without incident, we see no reason to stop enjoying it," it says. "But if you have had any sensitivities, we suggest discarding whatever is left and letting us know."
Soylent still offers a pre-mixed Soylent drink, and Coffiest, a Soylent-coffee blend - both of which it says have not caused any customers to fall ill. The company also promises to share the findings of its tests with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).