When Rosa Labs launched the 1.6 iteration of it’s popular Soylent powder and snack bar it brought with it a new formulation that included some innovative and forward thinking new ingredients. Unfortunately for Rosa Labs, at least one of these appeared to cause extreme gastrointestinal distress for a number of customers; with reports of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea surfacing quickly online.

Luckily for Rosa Labs, the sickness inducing snack bars and powder had a limited number of ingredients not present in the company’s other, non-sickening products, and as they ruled out contamination or quality control issues they moved quickly towards looking at what might be causing intolerances in some customers.

Through process of elimination Rosa Labs identified algal flour as the likely culprit, which placed the blame firmly at TerraVia’s door.

To my memory; Soylent CEO and Founder Rob Rhinehart did not make any claims about the quality of TerraVia’s product, but spoke of limited food intolerances as the heart of the issue – something that TerraVia has clearly taken issue with.

A plant-based food, nutrition and specialty ingredients company that harnesses the power of algae, TerraVia could suffer due to Rob’s statements – and they’re clearly not happy.

“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,” TerraVia CEO Apu Mody.

And they don’t stop there.

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.TerraVia CEO Apu Mody.

There is some discussion online saying that TerraVia were already aware of an issue with some algal ingredients, but it’s not clear whether this was with algal flour itself, or algal protein.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Soylent contains more than one TerraVia ingredient, and having to reformulate all of their products could cause big problems for Rosa Labs.

Update

We reached out to Soylent and received the following statement.

This will have no impact on our business. We have already re-released Powder (v 1.7) without algal flour and halted shipments of 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.


Read the Full TerraVia statement on Business Wire here and details of the 1.6 issues on ArsTechnica here.