Soylent May Get The Green Light

According To The CFIA, Soylent May Get The Green Light Again

The future of food may be more environmentally friendly, but did one company go too far in claiming a stake?

US based Soylent, who sells a meal replacement drink that’s been called both “the future of food” in breathless headlines, has not been sold in Canada since 2017 due to a failure to meet federal food regulations.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said it advised Soylent that the company’s drinks did not meet the compositional requirements for meal replacement products, and that its imports would be halted unless regulations were met.

CEO Rob Rhinehart said the company intended to comply with CFIA regulations, even though the company feels “strongly that these requirements do not reflect the current understanding of human nutritional needs.”

The Soylent revolution did make it to Canada

He went on to say that he didn’t know how long it would take for Soylent to adapt to CFIA’s requirements, and that the company couldn’t estimate when its products would eventually be available again to Canadians. The company said in a statement that it was “working hard to resolve the categorization issue.”

Soylent, which offers meal replacement drinks both in bottles and in powder form, started in 2013 when Mr. Rhinehart was working in Silicon Valley.

The product was built around the idea that home cooking was time-consuming for busy people in a work-obsessed culture.

“It turns a full meal into a one-step process. It makes things a lot less complicated. And when you’re busy, it takes eating off your plate,” was posted on Soylent’s website.

Designed to deliver a healthy ratio of carbohydrates, fat and protein, the product is sold less as a drink and more as a lifestyle. The company’s branding and packaging similarly embrace efficiency over aesthetics with minimalist labelling.

Not affiliated, but the leverage from Soylent Green is unmistakeable

Soylent launched with a crowdfunding campaign raising over $700,000 US in 2013, and the brand grew quickly. The company then started selling in Canada in 2015.

Apparently, this wasn’t Soylent’s first run-in with food inspection agencies. In October of 2016, parent company Rosa Foods recalled Soylent’s “food bars” along with an earlier version of its food powder after customers complained about suffering stomach issues.

There’s no doubting that producing a safe, publicly accepted food product that passes regulatory muster has challenges. Soylent is a perfect example of a product with promise, but do they have the tenacity to fight the good fight?

Soylent’s website specified that the company wasn’t named after the food-replacement wafers that infamously turned out to be made of human flesh in the 1973 movie Soylent Green based on Richard Fleischer’s book.

Meanwhile, Back in Canada…

A Toronto-based landscape architect, Steve Euser, said he’d been a regular Soylent drinker since the product was made available in Canada. “I was working very, very long hours, and eating healthy — actually, just eating — was a problem,” Euser says.

With an ailing father and no time to take care of their design business, Euser found Soylent to be a convenient meal supplement to get him through long days.

Ever since Soylent was removed from the Canadian market back in 2017 one question has been on supporters mind north of the border – when the heck is it coming back, eh?

In a statement recently issued by the company in October of 2019, “It’s finally happening, we are coming back.” Their goal being to have product back on the shelves by the first quarter of 2020.

Developing a Custom Food Formula? Read This First

Developing a Custom Food Formula? Read This First

Are You Aware of What it Takes to Develop Safe Custom Food Products?

What is the Safe Food for Canadians Act?

It’s a piece of law that was enacted in 2012 to protect Canadian consumers. The Act provides regulations for custom food formulas and other edible products.

The goal of the Act is to:

  • Make edibles that are sold in Canada as safe as possible
  • Protect consumers by cracking down on food management practices deemed unsafe
  • Enables companies endangering the public to face harsher punishments
  • Makes it possible to control imports better
  • Enhances how easily we can trace our food
  • Standardizes the inspection standards for foods

Read more about the Act on the government’s site.

Does Canada have an FDA?

Canada has three core regulatory bodies that perform the same function as the FDA does in the United States.

The Department of Health Canada is responsible for setting the stands and regulations for custom food formulas and other edible products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for enforcing the rules that the Department of Health implements.

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada agency is responsible for new products entering the market.

Who is responsible for food safety in Canada?

Ultimately, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the enforcement arm of the Department of Health. As a business, you’d have to deal with inspections from the CFIA.

Read more about the importance of these regulations and inspections here.

How is food regulated in Canada?

If you’re researching the regulations for custom food formulas, you’ll need to deal with the three agencies.

Health Canada sets the standards that companies must meet. These include food safety standards and the nutritional quality of foods. The Food Directorate operates under the umbrella of Health Canada.

The directorate is responsible for investigating the benefits and risks associated with the different food products. It follows strict scientific guidelines in reviewing the benefits and risks. Using this research, it helps Health Canada to set the standards.

The CFIA will be responsible for enforcing the regulations. They’ll be the ones knocking on your door to conduct food safety inspections. They also regulate the advertising, labelling, and packaging of food products.

Let’s say that you’re manufacturing a food supplement, for example. This agency will come knocking on your door if you make bogus claims or use unsafe packaging.

To get your supplement approved, you’ll need to apply to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. They’re quite a helpful agency, so it’s a good idea to work with them from the development stage. They’ll help you ensure that your product meets regulatory standards.

Final Notes

All these agencies work together to ensure that the food provided to Canadians is safe. Their work entails regulating the production process and everything that impacts the food. The packaging must be secure and must adequately protect the food.

Companies may not make unproven claims about their products. If they say that the product contains a certain amount of magnesium, for example, independent testing must back that up. Companies that flout the regulations face stiff penalties.

The regulations may seem excessive, but they protect the company as well. By ensuring that the food produced is safe, the company safeguards itself from potential civil action.