Potassium gluconate from the Soylent Offices.
| Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Soylent, the bizarre food replacement powder, might not be made of people like the fictional food it shares a name with, but a California-based activist group alleges that whatever it is made out of, you might want to think twice before consuming it.

According to Food Navigator USA, the group As You Sow filed a notice of intent to bring legal action against Soylent, saying one serving “can expose a consumer to lead concentrations 12-25 times higher” and cadmium concentrations “at least four times greater” than manufacturers are allowed to include in a product without printed warnings under California’s Prop 65.

For their part, Soylent says their products are “completely safe and nutritious” and that they “stand by the quality and safety of our products.” However, this doesn’t mean they completely disagree with the heavy metal claims. In a post on the company website, they admit, “A recent quality assurance analysis conducted by an independent, third-party lab showed that the heavy metal content in the brown rice protein used in Soylent was above levels indicated in previous testing. These levels are in no way toxic, and Soylent remains completely safe and nutritious. Soylent is not in violation of any product-safety standards or requirements, and is manufactured in FDA-approved facilities that follow federally regulated current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). No changes to our formula are mandated by law, and we stand by the quality and safety of our product.”

It’s important to note that a product can be in violation of Prop 65 for lacking proper labeling without being in violation of any product safety standards. And because of the above findings, Soylent has begun to include California’s required Prop 65 warning on their website. However, As You Sow wants these warnings to appear on packaging.

As Food Navigator points out, Prop 65 itself has courted controversy of its own, with some lawyers describing it as “legalized blackmail” – a way for “bounty hunting” law firms to force companies to settle out of court for cash.

Regardless, these new revelations about Soylent are something to consider before you make your inevitable decision to give up food entirely.