Soylent recalls another product amid gastrointestinal mayhem

Wait, it’s supposed to be all-natural and it’s got effing sucralose in it? Epic fail. That alone could be causing the symptoms.


You’d think they’d have pasteurized the shit out of everything they put in, just to be sure…




No. The essence of science is controlled observation and replication. More over “scientist” does not just mean one who does science. These guys lack the relevant background expertise in human nutrition, diet, and apparently food safety. They don’t necessarily need a “stamp of approval” (IE an accredited degree proving expertise like animals!) but they still need that expertise. They don’t have it. And they’ve been fairly dismissive of the idea that it might be useful. There is likewise little indication that they’ve done much research (as in the reading about it kind) on the pertinent subjects, or that they have engaged with actual experts to check their work.

Your entire argument is based in the same sort of misconceptions and misrepresentations pushed by pseudo-scientists. There in lies fake science.

This is an example of a regular person engaging in science. A hair dresser applied her relevant expertise, in hair styling. To a problem in the archaeological field. Working with scientists who provided their relevant expertise in the history and artifacts themselves. As a result she was able to answer some lingering questions about Roman art and fashion, and provide solid identifications for what were once mysterious artifacts. But the whole thing was contingent on people with expertise using that expertise. And not dismissing each others expertise.

What you’re espousing is a child’s idea of science.

Signs point to yes!

Although seriously I was thinking more in terms of basic food handling safety. One of the powders spoiled, or some one dangled their balls in a vat of soy protein. Did not occur to me that one of the powders could have been swapped out, but that makes tons of sense.

One would assume. But remember these guys are so anti-cooking it makes those panties they purchase to wear once and discard bunch up sooooooooooooo hard.

ETA: oh and there are froms of contamination that pasteurization wouldn’t help. Some toxins can make it past pasteurization, and algae toxins can be nasty. And say you accidentally got arsenic in there (a thing that happens with ingredients sourced from China) pasteurization wouldn’t help with that.


Er, yes they have, and they do. For example:

And I quote “During development our dietician recommended using sodium below 100% of RDI”. That was in mid-2014 before the go-go January 2015 $20m investment, too.

Here are all the search hits from the founder containing the word “research”, ordered by recency, though he hasn’t posted since late 2015:

I don’t consume Soylent, I have zero interest in the stuff personally, but to claim that they are running around randomly throwing crap into a blender while blatantly disregarding all previous research and science on nutrition is absurd. They’re on at least their fourth major iteration of this stuff, and they take feedback not just from their community, but from prior research, nutritionists, dieticians, etc.

It’s more than a little ironic that you’re painting with the “these people haven’t even done the research” brush when you haven’t even… done the research.

Disclaimer: Soylent is a hosting customer, and I occasionally peek in at their community in the same manner I do here. But I have never personally consumed Soylent nor do I have any interest in doing so.


I agree. As you know from the last thread! :slight_smile:

The primary problem with Soylant is that it has been put together by someone who isn’t a nutritionist, or scientist, or chemist, and scoffs at these requirements. It isn’t run through controlled human trials. Most of the ingredients are rubbish, he prides himself on sourcing the cheapest (which is most often the lowest quality industrial byproducts) ingredients that can check off his nutrition checklist with zero consideration for bio-availability or usability by humans.

Most algae are not usable to humans, and often contain high level of toxins. They have to be strictly tested batch by batch (which there is no indication he does) and in order for humans to digest most algae the cell walls have to be cracked through a special process, which is what makes the ingredient “Whole Algal Flour” such a joke. Sure it contains a lot of necessary nutrients, but NO you cannot get at them, you shit them out intact. It is a know cause of gastrointestinal distress.

They source both the High Oleic Algal Oil and Whole Algal Flour from Solazyme, the former is GRAS but the latter is intended to be used in processes that will alter it, not directly in products.

This same basic mistake is true for many of his micro nutrients, he goes for cheaper forms that can’t be used by humans. his macro nutrients are all the cheapest and lowest quality as well.

I look at this list and I am hard pressed to find an ingredient that has a worse substitute/alternative.

I’m not against meal replacements, but with so many options why anyone would choose this one leaves me baffled.


I’ve heard Soylent described as “Ensure for assholes”. Wish I could give credit for the source.


Their point isn’t that “processed” is scary - it’s that by its very nature processed food requires energy and labour that unprocessed does not.

You’re not saving the world, you’re just sucking on a fossil fuel placebo you think is working solely because it isn’t made of meat.


“is this problem rate lower or higher than the rate at which pharmaceuticals carrots . . . cause side effects?”

Fixed that for ya, because what we’re talkin’ about here is (something that purports to be) food, not drugs.

“They are trying to make the world a little better”

No they’re not. They’re trying to make money by solving a problem that doesn’t exist.

“cut them some slack.”



Who is said Dietitian, what are said Dietitian’s qualifications and credentials? Also a Dietitian? One would expect multiples, and other medical doctors. And chemists, food scientists etc. Dietitians are typically medical practitioners, while their expertise here, particularly a research focused Dietitian, is expected they aren’t necessarily expert in all the fields neccisary. And all of this stuff, including that Dietitian reference, just refers back to FDA guidlines. Which are 1) guidlines 2) problematic guidlines and 3) not a total summation of what the body needs across all vectors.

SEVEN. Seven uses. Most of which don’t appear to reference actually researching anything. And those don’t look to promising. A dismissal of a collection of studies as not applicable. Vague references to “research”. Links to isolated studies that may represent cherry picking. Show me lists of studies and meta-analysis/reviews that were used to develop the product. Show me the medical consensus on a particular subject and where it drove the development of soylent.

Show me base understanding of simple, well established, and base ideas like bioavailability of a given nutrient varying with its precise chemical form. As @redesigned has repeatedly pointed out. The forms for certain key nutrients in Soylent are forms that the human body has difficulty absorbing. Which means if you consume the RDA of that form you don’t get the neccisary amount into your system.

I’ve done enough research on Soylent to get this distinct impression they’ve wholely misunderstood the extent of the task they’ve under taken. And I know enough about nutrition to know it doesn’t pass the smell test. @redesigned seems to have done a hell of a lot more than that. Seems to have done the homework soylent needs to. And he can much better point out the holes in their approach than I can.

But I’ll give you another example, a comment from the Gizmodo article I linked to earlier that stuck in my head:

[quote] "Why haven’t physicians pointed out the primary problem with this “meal replacement” thing? Speaking as someone who had to live on a nutrient liquid diet for almost 2 years due to some severe medical conditions that prevented me from eating solid food, I know the MANY downsides and health problems associated with long term non solid food diet… namely that after about a year of it, your body loses the ability entirely to break down food properly. Digesting solid food is a chemical and physical process… it is exercise for the digestive system. Digesting non solid food doesn’t give the body the same “exercise” in breaking down and extracting nutrients that solid food provides. After about a year I couldn’t digest even liquid diets properly because my stomach / digestive system basically forgot how to do it due to complete neglect… I had to be carefully weened back onto solid food over the course of 3 months just to learn how to digest food again… but even then my life was a constant state of malnutrition (no matter how much I ate my body just started to basically reject 90% of all nutrients and send it out via waste).

You cannot sustain a healthy life long term on a liquid diet… physicians have known this for decades… why is nobody in the health industry discussing this? You can maintain it 6 to 8 months, but after that you begin to suffer noticeable health problems… our bodies evolved to break down solid food, not live off liquid / slurry nutrients." [/quote]

While most people who use this stuff are using it pretty much in the only medically recommended way. As an addendum to a regular balanced diet. The stated goals of the founder, and a fair bit of the fan base, are to replace food. To provide a new, cheap, staple to form the bulk or total diet of people the world over. And they seem to have missed this one giant, important fact. No matter how nutritious (the comments above are from a guy surviving on medically administered, monitored, liquid nutrition), the human body just can’t function on liquid alone for extended periods. Even if Soylent were perfect (and its not) it would be dangerous to subsist off it. A single dietitian, unless they specialize in chronic care, isn’t really in a place to teach you that. And checking all the isolated studies on effects and amounts of a particular nutrient aren’t going to either. Because that’s gastroenterology homes. Where is their gastroenterologist?

I suppose its possible the bars were intended as a solution to that. But I doubt it. It seems more like the pre-mixed liquid and bars were part of the push to better market the product. I mean the 3rd 2.0 product is meal replacement coffee.


Soylent is a case study in engineers thinking they’re smarter than everyone else, but aren’t.

Well okay but consider this. For decades people have been dying of starvation due to the lack a hundred watts or so delivered to the cells in their bodies and the solution has apparently been to drop bags of rice on them from helicopters.

I’m sorry but conventional approaches to nutrition haven’t been working perfectly either.


Words mean things.

The OED defines ‘scientist’ as “A person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.” - note the or. You do not need to be an expert or even have significant background to practice science (although yes, both help tremendously if you want to advance the art). You must simply use scientific method; hypothesize, test, refine, repeat. The “-ist” prefix explicitly means scientist is “a person who does science”.

Also, back to the OED for “science”: “The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”

“Controlled” isn’t really part of it, unless you want to tell the cosmologists (and many physicists) that they aren’t scientists too. The essence of science is experiment (often accidental!), observation, and the refinement of the model based on those observations. Being an expert in the field is damn handy, but not a prerequisite - sometimes, it takes fresh eyes and someone who isn’t an “expert” to break from otrhodoxy, or to simply look at things in a new way. Velcro was invented by an electrical engineer. Strikable matches were invented by a pharmacist. Gregor Mendel was a freaking Monk. I can list more, but can google as well as I can.

if we’re going to use comics for emphasis: 397: Unscientific - explain xkcd


From :

“Soylent was developed under the close guidance of our nutritional advisor, Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, M.D., MPH. Pi-Sunyer is professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. At St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center he serves as chief of endocrinology, diabetes, and nutrition, and is director of the New York Obesity Research Center.”


Ok. Compare to food then.

and on and on.


To be fair, only one out of all the results has any actual research and it wasn’t his or related to his product, it was just two random research papers he linked to to make a point when dismissing a concern. All the other results where him dismissing the concerns other members had posted. One post did mention him consulting a doctor on which sugars had a low GI for diabetics, which is good, but seems to be the exception rather then the rule with his product.

Overall his posts don’t make a good case for soylent. I am finding a lot of fascinating reading there though, so thanks for linking that in.

On a side note. I’m glad he is a customer of yours…discourse is by far my favorite discussion platform for site based communities. At least he has good taste in software! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Why do you test? Why the experiments? Why can’t you do science by simply observing things? Why repeat things?

A big part of that is control. Eliminating variables, coincidences, co-factors, noise, mistakes, And getting around biases cognitive or otherwise. It’s one of the central reasons for the structure of the scientific method. And things like replication and peer review. A large part of what makes it work. An experiment is controlled observation, at base. The cosmologists do that just as much as anyone else in science. And it sits at the heart of a lot of stuff in theory of science.

That’s not necessarily science. Its based in science, it uses science, scientific discoveries might be involved. But that’s engineering, invention. Often involves the practical application of scientific thought. But it’s not the same thing.

Where is the iterative, trial and error development in observing the social dynamics of hyenas? Pretty much in the experimental design, if anywhere. Actual observations are more of the hit more miss sort, rather than the trial and error zone.


Are you suggesting the energy required to process soy is even on the same order of magnitude as the energy required to grow an equivalent amount of meat protein to maturity? Nobody goes up and just eats a cow - they require far more processing (feeding, antibiotics, and eventually slaughter and processing) than people realize.

My old high school biology class taught that you run about an order of magnitude energy loss for each step up the food chain - so, a pound of meat protein would require about 10 pounds of foodstuffs to create. Even if processing Soy doubled it’s cost (in energy, carbon footprint, labor, or whatever), it would still be dwarfed by most animal proteins. I do not have hard numbers, if anyone does I am willing to look and learn.

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Except their single medical consultant didn’t develop soylent, and wasn’t even consulting with them when they were developing it. You haven’t been following soylent since its inception have you? It’s possible he might have played a role in the latest iteration, but based on his expertise and the direct quote from the founder and formulator of soylent, he was consulted on the carbs and sugars in soylent specifically to make sure the GI was in an acceptable range for diabetics.

None of that changes the fact that most of the ingredients are the lowest possible quality ingredient that could check off a requirement on paper and the least absorbable/bio-available/usable ones.

There are plenty of meal replacements that were developed by teams of nutritionists, have had repeated medical studies done to prove their safety, and that use higher quality ingredients. Soylent isn’t one of them.


You do the experiments because it’s a lot faster than hoping to find the answer based on pure observation, of course. And being able to control for factors to eliminate them is also really useful, but again - cosmologists can do very little of either, and they are still scientists, because control (along with expertise), while very highly desirable, are not the fundamental basis of science. The lack of them just makes things really, really slow. :slight_smile:

(aside: Are String Theorists Scientists? How about mathematicians? I am honestly not sure, but I am loath to insult them because they aren’t wearing a lab coat and using beakers…)

And yes - when I posted the velcro and matches, I kinda thought “you could really say that that’s invention, not science” - but Gregor Mendel, man. The prerequisite for science isn’t expertise, or education - it’s an observant mind, and a willingness to be wrong and let actual results inform as to reality.

So - I stand by my statement that the Soylent guys (and gals?) are doing science, and are scientists, albeit amateur. I have noted elsewhere, they do have a MD Nutritionist that they are working with, so they aren’t even unguided. They make formulations, experiment (on themselves!), and reformulate based on results. To claim that’s not science is splitting hairs.


Speaking of food allergies, the recent Radiolab podcast about people developing a sudden allergy to non-primate red meat is worth a listen. Of course, if you are a vegetarian, cannibal or monkey-eater, nothing to worry about …