Maltodextrin/Nutrition Facts labeling in Soylent 1.5


#1

Soylent 1.5 Nutrition Facts mislead the consumer on the quantity of each ingredient in the “Canola & Sunflower Oil Powder” to hide how much Maltodextrin is in the product. If the ingredients were actually listed by mass it would read: Brown Rice Protein (72g), Maltodextrin (70g), Canola Oil (61g), Isomaltulose (47.3g), Potato Starch (41g), Oat Flour (24g), Sunflower Oil (20g) … The Soylent team knows Maltodextrin is a cheap ingredient that makes up 15% of the product and so they try and hide that fact from us. You can see from the links below that they like to spread their information far between many pages to make it difficult for everyone to find real information about the product, so that we don’t know what they’re selling. I’d just like to spread awareness so people know what they are buying and so that deceptive malpractice like this doesn’t continue.

All ingredients in the nutrition facts list are supposed to be listed in order of descending weight. The ingredients http://files.soylent.com/pdf/soylent-nutrition-facts.pdf state “Canola & Sunflower Oil Powder (Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin, Modified Food Starch, Mono & Diglycerides, Tricalcium Phosphate, Mixed Tocopherols)”. The 1.5 Formula page https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/205245405-1-5-Formula states that the “High Oleic Sunflower and Canola Oil powdered with Maltodextrin” is 152g. The Carbohydrates page https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/203708699-Carbohydrates states that “the maltodextrin used to make the oil a powder accounts for approximately 70.06 grams of storage saccharides”. The Lipids page https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/204401315-Lipids states that “Canola and Sunflower Oil Powder (accounts for 81.08 grams of fat)”. The Release Notes http://files.soylent.com/pdf/soylent-release-notes-1-5.pdf states that “Safflower and flaxseed oils have been removed from the powdered oil blend. It now consists of 75% canola oil, 25% high oleic sunflower oil”.
Maltodextrin should be stated first in the “Canola & Sunflower Oil Powder”, as it accounts for more weight than either canola oil or sunflower oil (75% of 81g is 61g).


#2

If they were trying to deceive, why did they release a comprehensive ingredient spreadsheet? They’ve actually gone above and beyond what most food manufacturers disclose.

Nope. Any ingredient containing multiple ingredients may be listed with its sub-ingredients parenthetically, according to the FDA:

For example, here’s a picture of a box of Nature Valley granola bars I had nearby:

Note how the chocolate chips are listed.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are already many discussions about maltodextrin in general and specifically as in ingredient in Soylent, if you want to do more reading or continue an existing discussion.


#3

I think you’re factually correct. The math works out, and by 21 C.F.R. §101.4 (b)(2), ingredients with multiple sub-ingredients do need to have the sub-ingredients listed in descending order of predominance.

This, on the other hand, is alarmist and misguided. The only reason you were able to find this out is because Rosa Labs voluntarily posted all of the details online. Good luck identifying the same inconsistencies with 99% of the food products out there. Soylent should not be the target of your crusade against misleading food labeling.

EDIT: @wezaleff By the same thing you cited, the parenthetical listings still do need to be provided in order of predominance (by weight), so the original complaint still does apply.


#4

I can’t speak to the legalese that “maltodextrin should be stated first in the ‘Canola & Sunflower Oil Powder’”, as I’m not up to date with the FDA’s food labeling requirements. But I believe the labeling had to be approved by the FDA (although I’m not certain).

But, I don’t think Soylent is guilty of “deceptive malpractice.” You have listed four links on the product’s website that mentions maltodextrin. That’s a pretty crappy job of hiding the ingredient.

Really, your complaint is that maltodextrin should be listed first on the v1.5 nutrition label, but it is listed third. On the v2.0 label, it is listed second, right after water.

I hardly think being listed third/second on the nutrition panels (as well as at least four different places on the website) qualifies as “deceptive”. In addition, if you utilize the search function in this very forum, I believe “maltodextrin” is among the most discussions. Fifty results, including multiple threads dedicated solely to maltodextrin.

If Rosa Labs is trying to mislead the consumer about the quantity of maltodextrin, they are doing a piss-poor job.


#5

I thought that oil blends were required to be listed in their combined weight order (so as not to “hide” fats late in the ingredient listing by using multiple fats instead of one fat), but I can’t find evidence of that so maybe I imagined it.

Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity (or an honest mistake, considering how convoluted the rules are).


#6

I concede that my post is alarmist sounding and that Rosa Labs releases more information about their ingredients than other food companies. Soylent purports that it can replace meals, however, so it needs to be more transparent than other food companies. The Soylent website does not have a search function, so I could not easily find how much maltodextrin is in the 1.5 powder. To find it out you have to click on FAQ at the bottom of the page, then “+ See all 35 articles”, then you have to click on the carbohydrates page. The Soylent home page for the powder https://www.soylent.com/product/powder/ depicts Brown rice protein, Oat flour, Sunflower oil, and Vitamins & minerals, saying “An empirical design process means only the best ingredients make the cut.” Based on the home page and nutrition facts, I was under the impression that there was hardly any Maltodextrin, yet it makes up 15% of the product and is the second most predominant ingredient by weight. Of the 35 articles there are dedicated articles on Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Magnesium,Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Manganese, Sucralose and so on, but maltodextrin is only mentioned in the carbohydrates page and isn’t even given a full sentence. Isomaltulose, in comparison, has 9 sentences and a graph on that same page. Furthermore, I have seen the “many discussions about maltodextrin” and they are negative and no one is able to defend maltodextrin’s use in Soylent. I am upset because I was advocating Soylent to a vegan friend and then could not find anything that shows that maltodextrin is actually healthy, by the media or Rosa Labs, and is much more prevalent in Soylent than I was led to believe.


#7

Soylent Nutrition label.

All you had to do is look at the nutrition label, which is printed on every bag. It is right at the top, so you should not have believed it was less prevalent.

In the back-to-back sentences you claim it releases more information than other food companies, but needs to be more transparent than other food companies. Really?


#8

Issue 1 – Misleading labeling

That would not surprise me. I did find this when looking a little more into section 101.4:

For products that are blends of fats and/or oils and for foods in which fats and/or oils constitute the predominant ingredient, i.e., in which the combined weight of all fat and/or oil ingredients equals or exceeds the weight of the most predominant ingredient that is not a fat or oil, the listing of the common or usual names of such fats and/or oils in parentheses shall be in descending order of predominance.

And we have the case where the predominant ingredient is a blend of fats and carbs, which probably puts this in a gray area. If the oils all need to be listed in weight order, but everything together needs to be listed in weight order, there’s a contradiction that Rosa actually did a good job of handling.

Issue 2 – Maltodextrin is hidden on the website

I would say this complaint is moving the goalposts, but whatever. I think the big point here is that maltodextrin doesn’t need a lot of description. It’s a complex carbohydrate (but not conceptually complex) that breaks down quickly and does a very good job of powdering oils. That’s it’s whole point: powdering oil so you don’t need a separate bottle anymore. And as we’ve said, it’s already hugely transparent to allow people to calculate the exact quantities of maltodextrin.

You can hold Rosa Labs to higher standards for selling a complete meal replacement, sure, but at this point you’ve moved the goalposts from “Rosa Labs is deceiving people,” to “Rosa Labs should provide even more transparent coverage of this one ingredient I don’t like.” Sure, why not? If they’ve got the time, I think it would be cool to have a separate page for maltodextrin too. I just don’t think it’s as big a deal as you do, and I’m not sure it’s worth your time to campaign for that change. Unfortunately, we now reach:

Issue 3 – Maltodextrin is the devil

When it comes down to it, the core of this thread is that people (maybe not OP, but at least OP’s friend) demonize maltodextrin. The people who think maltodextrin is evil look at Soylent’s website and say “they have a ton of maltodextrin but don’t tell/warn their customers”, while the people who think maltodextrin is fine say “ugh settle down maltodextrin is fine” because there’s not a nice page on the website to calm people down.

Unfortunately, even that wouldn’t do much just because of how people’s brains work. Everything you eat is bad for you in some way, but if someone picks an ingredient they don’t like, they will find published studies showing some negative effect, and they will use that as justification for rejecting it altogether. It’s the same old discussion we always have about Soylent safety: how do we judge that something is safe to eat? @AaronT wasn’t able to prove that maltodextrin was healthy, so his friend just took that as proof that it was unhealthy. I don’t know what you can do about that mindset. We can address the friend’s concerns about maltodextrin one by one, but it’s likely he won’t be content as long as any single concern is not solidly debunked, and that’s just not possible with any ingredient.


#9

Test it out for yourself. Get before / after blood tests if you want.

And if you feel miserable, eat your usual stuff, sell the leftovers, and come back and complain.

If you feel healthier, as 44% of the people do (55% felt the same, 1% felt worse) than enjoy.

And just to get you started. 50% off your first box. http://soy.lt/r/dqqcCqx9by


#10

The FDA does not generally pre-approve labels - they only investigate and penalize after the fact if they find out there’s been a problem.


#11

This was like the first or second search result that came up on the googles.

[Quote] One type of maltodextrin is a simple carbohydrate. It contains calories and is used in supplements designed to provide a boost of energy. The second type – resistant maltodextrin – comes from the same source, but it goes through additional processing to make it indigestible. Resistant maltodextrin doesn’t provide energy, but it does deliver benefits similar to soluble fiber’s. The term maltodextrin applies to any starch hydrolysis product containing less than 20 glucose units, and, for this reason, maltodextrin refers to a family of products instead of a specific product.

Resistant Maltodextrin Health Benefits

Resistant maltodextrin is fermented by good bacteria in your large intestine, which produces energy and helps keep the acid-base balance in the best range for the intestine to work properly. It ferments at a slower pace than soluble fiber, so you’re less likely to experience side effects such as gas, reports ADM Specialty Food Ingredients. Resistant maltodextrin may help keep you regular by increasing stool bulk. It also supports the growth of good bacteria. When a group of men took supplemental resistant maltodextrin, they excreted significantly more good bacteria, which is a good indication that the number of bacteria in the gut had increased, according to a study published in the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Nutrition…
[/quote]

So yea, your post sounds extremely alarmist especially when a simple web search yields a result citing the health benefits of (resistant) maltodextrin.

Now, my next question would be; what kind of maltodextrin is used in Soylent?


#12

@naten Resistant maltodextrin is not the kind used in Soylent. Resistant maltodextrin is basically a form of fiber, not net carbs. Soylent uses maltodextrin as a source of net carbs (starch or sugar).


#13

So, there you go. The Maltodextrin is a source of net carbs.

There are a group of people that utilize this type of maltodextrin, I think it was the 4th search that came up on the googles:

Though maltodextrin is technically a complex carbohydrate because of it’s sugar content, it’s high glycemic index means it goes through the digestive system super fast. There are 2 instances where this is a good thing.

  1. After a hard workout, maltodextrin will quickly get energy and protein (if accompanied) to your muscles.
  1. During a long workout, maltodextrin’s quick absorption by the body and low osmolality (It doesn’t absorb much water) make it a good candidate to give energy while not dehydrating you.

Soylent 1.5 does have a upper medium Glycemic Index:

Soylent 1.5 Glycemic Index: 65
Soylent 1.5 Glycemic Load: 35

While Soylent 2.0 has a upper low Glycemic Index:

Soylent 2.0 Glycemic Index: 49
Soylent 2.0 Glycemic Load: 16.7

According to Mayo Clinic, low-GI foods are those with GI scores of 55 and under; medium-GI foods have assigned scores between 56 and 69 and high GIs are considered 70 and above.


#14

You also have to remember that Soylent has maltodextrin specifically for its fast absorbency. It is intended as a source of quick energy. Maltodextrin, like every food, is not inherently healthy or unhealthy. It is all in how it is used. Consume any food excessively and it will become bad for you. The trick is figuring out where the line is with the particular food in question. In my opinion the amount of maltodextrin in 1.5 is on the edge of becoming excessive. As @naten pointed out it is in the upper end of moderate.


#15

And favorable mouth feel, compared to many other calorie sources.