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Soylent blames algal flour for consumer complaints

After halting production of Soylent Powder and Soylent Bars in October due to consumer complaints of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, Soylent thinks it has finally found the culprit: algal flour.

Since its inception in 2013, the Los Angeles-based meal-replacement startup has gained a strong following among Silicon Valley circles. However, just as the company was basking in its early success with the launch of its new coffee drink, reports surfaced about consumers who experienced unpleasant side effects, Bloomberg reports. The company has since been conducting tests to determine what could be making its consumers sick.

Soylent now plans to remove algal flour from future powders and bars when it releases its new formulation early next year. However, Soylent’s algal flour supplier, TerraVia Holdings Inc., said Soylent’s products contain several irritants — like soy protein isolate and glycerin — that can potentially lead to discomfort experienced by consumers. “Our algal flour has been used in more than 20 million servings of products, and we are aware of very few adverse reactions. In no cases was algal flour identified as the cause.”

In addition to its powders and bars, algae can also be found in Soylent’s premade drink as well as its coffee-replacement Coffiest. However, the ingredients are in the form of algal oil, not algal flour. According to Bloomberg, Soylent hasn’t received any complaints with regards to its premade drink, and although there are talks of consumers being sick from drinking Coffiest, Soylent has yet to officially acknowledge this and has not put a pause on production.


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