Why Soylent Meal Replacement Drinks Were Banned In Canada

Why were Soylent meal replacement drinks banned in Canada? In October 2017, Soylent CEO Rob Rhinehart published an open letter on Soylent's website. It explained that due to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) decision that Soylent doesn't constitute a meal replacement, Soylent would no longer be available in either Canadian stores or to Canadians ordering online. "Although we feel strongly that these requirements do not reflect the current understanding of human nutritional needs, we respect the CFIA's regulations and will fully comply with any regulatory action they deem appropriate," Rhinehart wrote, clearly peeved. He finished by stating that Soylent would work with the Canadian government to ensure that Soylent could return to Canadian markets at some point in the future. That, though, is yet to happen.

Before continuing, it should be noted that the issue raised by the agency was specifically the product's branding as a meal replacement. As they explained in a statement to Gizmodo, they don't believe that the product would prove hazardous to one's health, but they "identified that certain Soylent products were not in compliance with the Food and Drug Regulations with regard to meal replacements." Furthermore, the CFIA included a sentence saying that marketing decisions were up to the producer, which implies the possibility of simply marketing Soylent differently. So, either Soylent could alter its recipe to fit Canadian strictures or it could lose the pretense of being a meal replacement. Almost four years later, it seems they surrendered.

Canada doesn't allow sucralose in meal replacements

The reason why Soylent could not be included in Canadian markets is because every Soylent tested by CFIA contained sucralose, a type of sweetener. However, as the agency points out in internal messaging (see page 15) and as made clear by the Canadian regulations concerning sweeteners, sucralose is not permitted in meal replacements. The examined products also, according to the messages, lacked the necessary phosphorus content. 

So, again, it's a decision between changing the brand or changing the formula, which presumably includes sucralose to compensate for the flavor. Of course, doing so may open their product to other regulations, or if the CFIA embrace it as a junk food, taxes. 

It seems unlikely, then, that Soylent will return to Canada in the near future, much to a small lamentation on Reddit. However, Canadians who desire Soylent could replace it with Hol, which in 2018 was available in Canada. Moreover, two dispirited Redditors amongst the cadre of the thwarted cooking dodgers found they enjoy Hol more anyway.