Crafting a powder-based drink that can replace your entire diet, it turns out, is pretty darn difficult. Following a total recall of its food bars, Soylent has slammed the brakes on its flagship powder product too. The company says "a handful" of customers, or less than 0.1 percent, have experienced "stomach-related symptoms" similar to the ones reported by its snack bar users. (Those, if you need a reminder, include vomiting, diarrhoea and severe stomach pain.) Soylent is still looking for the root of the problem. Its previous powder formula, 1.5, appeared to be fine, so the company is narrowing its search to the ingredients specific to 1.6 and the bars.
"We are going to continue to look into this further and share our findings with the FDA so that they can do their own evaluation," the company said.
In the meantime, it's stopping all sales of the powder. The team is focused on "reformulating" the mixture and its nutritional snack bars, and expects both to be back on the market in the first quarter of 2017. For now, customers will need to start eating like regular human beings -- or survive on Soylent's ready-to-go "Drink" and "Coffee" bottles instead. If, however, you haven't experienced any problems, you should be okay to work through what's left of your supplies. "We see no reason to stop enjoying it," the company explained in a blog post. "But if you have had any sensitivities, we suggest discarding whatever is left and letting us know."
Even if Soylent fixes the problem, a larger challenge remains -- repairing the inevitable damage to its brand. Many customers will be hesitant to trust the company again, especially as its products have a direct impact on their personal health. Soylent is attractive because it's convenient, but that will matter little if people think it could make them unwell.