The real seasons Soylent was banned from Canada

From the Soylent subreddit; link

As a publicly available document, released via the freedom of information act provided by the Canadian government, I don’t think this is against TOS.

Note : There are redactions in place.

Take a look!

Summary from the document of all of the issues CFIA found with Soylent. Looks like it was quite a bit more than simply the fat content:

  • Only “Cafe Chai” contained a second non-permitted food additive (caffeine)
  • All five items declare vitamin and mineral contents that do not meet the FDR specifications for meal replacements
  • Each vitamin and mineral was declared as 20% DV, and this percentage was applied to the Canadian Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) to determine each amount
  • Calculations showed 13 vitamins or minerals were below the minimum required amount, and 1 mineral was above the maximum allowable amount
  • Required phosphorous was not declared in any of the products

Additional issues were noted and would require correction or validation to demonstrate compliance to FDR, but were not specified In our decision for the current shipment in question.

  • A) Based on online advertising, the energy available derived from the fat content exceeded the allowable 35%

  • B) Acceptable percentage of energy available derived from linoleic acid and n-3 linolenic acid must be validated

  • C) Acceptable nutritional quality of protein must be validated

  • D) Mandatory labelling as meal replacements were incomplete:

    • missing declaration of linoleic acid and n-3 linolenic acid content
    • missing expression of certain minerals in milligrams or micrograms
    • date printed on selling unit (case of 12 bottles) Is not identified as a required expiration date
    • date printed on individual bottles is identified as “Best By” and not an expiration date E) NFT for “Powder” did not include French

The importer was notified of our decision by email on Wed 2017-10-04 4:23 PM. The CBSA was advised of our determination by email on Thu 2017-10-05 11:54 AM.

(thanks to u/Basil_love for that summary!)

IDK why Soylent didn’t post this themselves this whole time. I honestly don’t find it to be a big deal.

It does illustrate how laborious it can be to sell internationally. So. Many. Different. Regulations.


Now I wanna know how much phosphorous I’ve been missing out on.

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I suspected there was more to it. The powers that be were very quiet on the specific reasons for the ban. Would be much happier with them as a company if they had come right out and said from the beginning.


Thanks for posting this. Now wondering how far along the new product must be at…

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I trust it’s going along as well as they have made it out so far.

It just drives me nuts that RL refused to be transparent from the get-go. This kind of stuff always comes to light, eventually.

They’ll reply soon, after they’re done scrambling around & have a few meetings / analyses of the best course of action. It’ll sound like a politician’s “answer”.

(I’m only being like this because I don’t want RL to act this way again. Integrity is the best policy.)


It looks to me to be quite difficult for them to meet those various requirements without a major reformulation, amounting to a new product for the Canadian market.

Meeting the requirement for phosphorus and linoleic acids to be labeled shouldn’t be a problem, just the expense of certified lab analysis. Unless they turn out to be too low; then they have to figure out whether to supplement or to change macro ingredients to ones that will bring some extra phosphorus or linoleic acids along. And then you have flavor changes, and more rounds of lab tests.

The same for each of the vitamins that are too low for Canadian RDAs: supplement, or reformulate? And if you supplement, is it acceptable to now be over the U.S. RDA?

Then, sucralose. It is clear that Soylent would never fall into a product category in the list of categories for which sucralose is an allowed additive. So they need to reformulate to eliminate it. Although they don’t use a lot (no Soylent product is what you’d call “sweet”), they must include it for a reason – I speculate, to mask the bitterness of some of the micronutrients. What could they use instead, that would meet the requirements? Not monkfruit – at least, monkfruit is not a permitted additive by EU regs – and probably not xylitol or ace-K, which are other manufactured sweeteners. Maybe stevia, which is “natural”, but stevia adds its own bitter aftertaste for many people (me included). At the least, that change requires a whole round of testing, and grumpy forum posts about the “awful new flavor”.

Then in order to get calories from fat below the required level, they basically have to up the carb content. Oh, hey! If they went to glucose or fructose for the sweetener to replace sucralose, that might raise the carbs enough to bring the fat percent in line! It’s a win-win! Yeah, no. Can you imagine the contempt of the diet nerds looking at the new label: “High-fructose corn syrup! Bleagh!”

In all it looks like a very complicated, tedious, multi-factor reformulation with many rounds of testing, to be repeated for every single product (are there six now? seven?) – all to serve one rather small market. At a time when they claim to be ramping up to launch in a Euro country. That means they are in the middle of studying the EU regs and deciding how to meet those without a similar disaster to the Canadian one.

So when will Soylent come back to Canada? My money is on “never”.

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It sounds like someone else in the meal replacement market already has control of their regulatory agency.
If I were in their place, I would just write off Canada all together and focus on countries that don’t require such asinine requirements like placating the French.

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It does seem kinda ridiculous that Soylent apparently didn’t look into seemingly basic things – like the labeling rules/regulations, for starters – in the ‘foreign’ market they were trying to expand to though.

I’m probably a little bit of a Soylent apologist, but I can’t really wrap my head around this one and it isn’t the best of looks for the company from a competence perspective. Even as someone who isn’t affected by this at all, it just doesn’t look good/smart.

I’m still going to continue drinking a shit load of Soylent though, hopefully I didn’t just give off the impression that I’m like super pissed about this or something, cause I’m really not.

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@Conor already addressed this mentioning the gaming community up here in Canada. What gets me is the fact that the government wants to force a ban on Soylent after almost three years of being sold in Canada.

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Soylent has been sold in Canada for around three years, this wasn’t a situation of a brand new product coming into the country.

Not really relevant to anything, unless Canada recently changed/added all those rules/regs (and it is my understanding that that is not the case)…

EDIT: Soylent was reclassified in Canada from food to meal replacement (the classification differences is something Soylent should have been aware of and known which classification they ultimately fit into, even if Canada originally had them classified as food, before expanding there)

Not really sure what you’re saying here, by your first post it sounded as if you couldn’t believe Soylent not knowing the full details before “trying to expand into a foreign country”.

This was already an established market in which Soylent products were previously approved for sale three years back. This would imply that whatever specification were made by the government before being permitted to be sold here were obviously met three years ago or else the product would not have been allowed into the country back at that time.

Soylent was originally classified as ‘food’ in Canada (I’m not sure if this was by mistake or if that is just a classification it received prior to further inspection of the product or what). Soylent has since been reclassified to its appropriate category (according to CFIA rules/regulations) as a meal replacement. But Soylent does not meet a number of requirements that must be met by product with a meal replacement classification (despite it containing a number of things that would objectively make it a meal replacement product instead of ‘food’ under CFIA guidelines).

What I’m saying is: regardless of what it was originally classified as, [it seems like] Soylent should have known what classification it actually belonged to before it expanded to that country.

The truth will set you free. This is exactly what I wanted from day 1 - the full story. I was totally willing to look past the fact that Soylent had all the chances in the world to read and adhere to Canadian guidelines BEFORE selling it in Canada (whole story there)… but when the banhammer came down I wanted the facts and you simply held out on us. Sad.


My understanding, to put it simply, is that Canada’s classification system is… kinda weird & subjective. It should still be classified as “food”, IMHO.


Some of Canada’s reasoning for the classifications is [potentially] subjective & outdated but Soylent objectively belongs in the meal replacement category based on the current CFIA guidelines.

While we all might agree with this, it doesn’t change the fact that Soylent is classified correctly based on the current [objective] rules (not the reasoning behind the rules, but the actual rules are objective).

That kind of makes sense. This is just frustration all the way around. What is the actual classification in the US?

It’s regulated as food by the FDA.


(f) The term “food” means (1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for components of any such article.

We don’t have a special set of rules for meal replacements (that I’m aware of) in the US. If it’s food, we regulate it like any other food.


@erichsalvesen So you don’t want them to expand into France then? 20% of Canadians speak French and it’s one of our two official languages. We have rules and laws just like the states. Companies have to abide by them. What I find interesting is that our nutritional requirements have a stricter standard than in the US. It does suck for Canadians that Soylent was reclassified from the general category of “food” into the more precise category “meal replacement” but I’d rather know that Soylent doesn’t provide 100% of my body’s daily requirements if I had planned on consuming only Soylent. You know someone, somewhere would have sued them if they turned out to be vitamin deficient after only eating Soylent, something that touts itself as a complete meal replacement. I hope they do reformulate. I imagine the EU has similar standards to Canada and I’d like to see them be able to expand and grow the Soylent brand.

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Wait, so you think everything categorized as ‘food’ in Canada provides 100% of your ‘daily requirements’?

Unless I’m misreading, you seem to not understand this whole thing as much as some others, just in the opposite way kinda.

Edit: I think I misread/am too tired. Cant tell, I’ll give it another go tomorrow.