OAKLAND, Calif. (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — As You Sow, a non-profit environmental-health watchdog, today filed a notice of intent to bring legal action against Soylent, a "meal replacement" powder recently featured in New York Times and Forbes stories reporting that workers in Silicon Valley are drinking their meals, eliminating the need to eat food. The 60-day notice alleges violation of California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act for failure to provide sufficient warning to consumers of lead and cadmium levels in the Soylent 1.5 product.
Test results commissioned by As You Sow, conducted by an independent laboratory, show that one serving of Soylent 1.5 can expose a consumer to a concentration of lead that is 12 to 25 times above California's Safe Harbor level for reproductive health, and a concentration of cadmium that is at least 4 times greater than the Safe Harbor level for cadmium. Two separate samples of Soylent 1.5 were tested.
According to the Soylent website, Soylent 1.5 is "designed for use as a staple meal by all adults." The startup recently raised $20 million in funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
"Nobody expects heavy metals in their meals," said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow. "These heavy metals accumulate in the body over time and, since Soylent is marketed as a meal replacement, users may be chronically exposed to lead and cadmium concentrations that exceed California's safe harbor level (for reproductive harm). With stories about Silicon Valley coders sometimes eating three servings a day, this is of very high concern to the health of these tech workers."
Lead exposure is a significant public health issue and is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and lower IQ, even at low levels. Chronic exposure to cadmium has been linked to kidney, liver, and bone damage in humans.
Since 1992, As You Sow has been a leading enforcer of California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, with enforcement actions resulting in removal of lead from children's jewelry, formaldehyde from portable classrooms, and lead from baby powder.