That some customers were getting violently ill, vomiting and defecating for hours, after eating the meal-replacement product Soylent Bar is not up for debate. What is, however, is the root cause of all those hours spent on the toilet. After temporarily suspending sales of both its bars and powder, Soylent announced it had determined that the algal flour common to both products was at fault, and that it would reformulate both products to exclude it. The flour's manufacturer, however, is calling bullshit and yesterday announced it would immediately suspend sales of all ingredients to Soylent as a retaliatory measure for being smeared by the company.
"The decision to suspend supply is based on the high level of concern that Soylent’s actions in addressing its issues with Powder 1.6 indicate a pattern of behavior that is damaging TerraVia’s business," the company said in a statement. TerraVia CEO Apu Mody went further, adding that “We are surprised and disappointed that Soylent rushed to imply that algal flour is to blame and removed the ingredient without providing any evidence that they conducted a full investigation of their formulations and the more than 40 ingredients in their products, as would be standard practice in the food industry.”
Why should Soylent care? Ars Technica reports that the company still purchases ingredients used in both its Soylent 2.0 and Coffiest breakfast drink from TerraVia. This sudden supply-chain interruption could seriously damage Soylent's ability to meet manufacturing goals, as it will now be forced to either find a new supplier or rework the products' formulas entirely.
Interestingly, TerraVia's very public "FU" came only hours before MarketWatch reported that investors in the company are considering a class action lawsuit alleging that TerraVia executives knew their product caused "gastrointestinal distress" in some consumers as early as July. Soylent only publicly fingered the algal flour as the culprit in November.
Meanwhile, Soylent is publicly brushing the entire thing off. "This will have no impact on our business," a spokesperson for the meal replacement company told Ars Technica. "We have already re-released Powder (v 1.7) without algal flour and halted shipments of [the snack] Bar until it is reformulated. Although our ready-to-drink line does not contain the ingredients of concern, we have already developed versions without algae out of an abundance of caution."
"Customers will continue to receive Powder, Drink, and Coffiest without delay," the company added — thankfully sparring any Soylent devotees the ignominious fate of having to cook and eat a real meal.