It’s a brand that has become a tiny option for Silicon Valley programmers with no time to eat a real meal, but Soylent bars are not enjoying a great reception here in Canada. At least not from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which pulled the meal replacement bars from the shelves Friday after some people complained of gastrointestinal issues.
The recall, which was triggered by the company, does not affect its other products, it says. The company prompted the recall on October 12, nine days before the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recalled the product here.
“After hearing from our customers, we immediately began investigating the cause of the issue and whether it was linked to a problem with the bars,” said Soylent on its blog. “So far we have not yet identified one and this issue does not appear to affect our other drinks and powder.”
The Soylent Bar was launched just two months ago. The company said it provided an eighth of average adult’s recommended dietary needs in a “lighter, more portable form factor”.
Soylent, which is available in a drink mix and a ready-to-drink version, was launched in 2013 by Rosa Labs after a successful crowd funding campaign and a venture capital investment from Andreessen Horowitz. Soylent founder and CEO Rob Rhinehart says he doesn’t think the product will replace food entirely.
“The intent is pragmatic, functional, and entirely optimistic,” he told Bloomberg earlier this year. “We’re not seeking to destroy or replace food; we’re really trying to enhance it. If you take an historical view, you see that food is in a constant process of evolution. We’re just a part of that”.
But some criticisms of the product seem to have hinted at recent problems. In 2014, The New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo spent more than a week testing the product, which he described as “the most joyless new technology to hit the world since we first laid eyes on MS-DOS”. He points out that there have been no large-scale studies supporting the claims of its healthfulness.
“Besides offering no joy, Soylent presented other troubles,” said Manjoo. “For much of the time I used it, Soylent produced gastrointestinal symptoms ranging from mildly irritating to perilous. Judging by other users’ online descriptions of my experiences, my gut’s reaction wasn’t unusual, but Mr. Rhinehart said it was likely to be temporary, the result of my body adjusting to the government-recommended amount of fiber in Soylent.”
Earlier this month, Gizmodo reported on a Reddit thread in which people reported nausea and “uncontrollable diarrhea” after eating Soylent Bars. While some have targeted certain date codes and Canadian Food Inspection Agency has listed several on its website, Gizmodo writer Eve Peyser says the problem may be more widespread.
“Whatever is causing Soylent customers to get ill doesn’t appear to be limited to a single bad batch,” says Peyser.
Below: Soylent: How I Stopped Eating for 30 Days