Meal replacement start-up Soylent halted sales of its new nutrition snack bar Wednesday and advised customers to discard any in their possession.
The announcement came as a surprise days after the Los Angeles company expressed confidence in the food's safety, having retrieved and tested bars from consumers who reported feeling ill because of them. Soylent said it found no problems to explain the reported stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
In a blog post and email to bar customers Wednesday, the company said it was now erring on the side of caution.
"You place an enormous amount of trust in us each and every time you place an order," said the company, which is best known for its drinks and signature powder formulas. "We in turn owe it to you to prioritize your health and well-being above all else. Until we are absolutely certain our products are safe, they will not be shipped."
Soylent is among a growing group of food and nutrition start-ups — funded by venture capitalists — with broad ambitions to change the diet and habits of young adults. But making a product, as opposed to Silicon Valley's normal fare of software, has brought with it challenges and questions about quality and safety.
Soylent said its investigation has yet to turn up a problem with the 250-calorie bar and that its flagship beverage products "appear" to be unaffected. The powder, mixed with water to become a chalky meal replacement beverage, is known to give new users some stomach issues for a few days.
Bar buyers can apply for refunds, Soylent said. It's unclear how big of a loss the company might incur by suspending sales of its 2-month-old product. A spokesperson didn't immediately reveal sales figures or testing details.
Tech news publisher Gizmodo first spotted the Soylent bar complaints on online forums last week. Soylent told the publication that the bars are manufactured at an FDA-inspected facility and go through microbiological testing before shipping.