Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bonsoy And Thyroid Troubles: One Woman's Story

"I thought I was in heaven when over 2 years ago I found Bonsoy."
– Frances in New South Wales, Australia

Another Bonsoy victim has graciously agreed to share her story for the benefit of eFoodAlert readers. The following is a letter, dated 29 December 2009, that was sent to Bonsoy and to Spiral Foods, the soy milk brand's Australian importer and distributor.


To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you regarding the recent recall of your product, and to tell of my health issues over the past year.

As a committed soy drinker, I have spent much time searching for a soy milk product such as Bonsoy. My requirements were that it had to taste good, be organic with a small amount of ingredients, texture well for coffee, and not be owned by a multinational company.

I thought I was in heaven when over 2 years ago I found Bonsoy.

Even though it was very expensive I convinced myself the benefits of Bonsoy outweighed the extra expense of the product. I had allowed myself to splurge on something that I believed was good for me.

Prior to 24 December 2009, I enjoyed Bonsoy on a very regular basis. Daily I would consume between 300ml-500ml. Weekly I would go through about 3 litres. I also highly recommended this product to many friends and family.

In February 2009, after feeling very ill, tired and lethargic for many months I found time to address my health issues. I went to my local GP who instructed me to get blood tests immediately.

A few days later as I received the results, my heart sank.

At the age of 27, I was diagnosed with a number of health problems. One of these problems was severe Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid). I was immediately given 2 months sick leave from work. These two months were spent visiting specialists, taking medication, and having blood tests on a regular basis. The medication I am required to take is Thyroxine, one tablet every day for the rest of my life.

Since hearing news of the recall on the morning of 24 December 2009, I spent most of the morning questioning if Bonsoy really was bad for me. It wasn’t until I had read the many articles stating ‘Thyroid problems’ as the type of illness that I was convinced that Bonsoy may have caused mine.

Until recently I couldn’t understand how a young healthy woman could suddenly become so ill in such a short amount of time. I can only imagine how many other Bonsoy consumers are out there, who have endured a similar health scare, that have not yet been reported.

Yours Sincerely,
Frances (family name withheld)"

I would encourage anyone who has been a Bonsoy consumer and who is experiencing fatigue, unexplained changes in weight, or any other symptoms of thyroid trouble to consult with his or her doctor.

If you have a Bonsoy story that you would like to share, please either post a comment below, or contact me directly by email.


  1. I've been drinking Bonsoy for the past five or six years. I love it! I'm breastfeeding my baby son now. Although I haven't noticed any thyroid issues, I hope that I haven't caused any damage to his developing systems. We're both always tired, but that's to be expected for a newborn and a new mum.

  2. my situation is exactly the same as anonymous above - except that my son is 8 months old. i am worried too.

  3. Dear Anonymous Moms. I would strongly urge both of you to stop drinking Bonsoy, if you haven't already done so. I would further suggest that you and your sons be checked for thyroid function by your family doctors. Chronic fatigue can be a symptom of thyroid trouble.


  4. After hearing about this warning about Bonsoy I have booked and appointment with my Doctor. I discovered Bonsoy 15 years ago when was told was Lactose Intolerant and couldnt drink milk. Bonsoy had by far the best taste and drank it for 15 years in coffees, teas and on cereals. 4 Years ago I went from full health to a debilitating condition called 'Chronic Fatigue', which to this date still suffering from, but in a much improved state. I now wonder if Bonsoy could have had any effect or even be the cause of my condition. Will learn more after seeing my Doctor.


  5. Carmel, I hope you post again after you have seen your Doctor. If Bonsoy is a source of the problem, I think that blood tests should reveal elevated iodine levels.

    Best wishes for a full recovery.


  6. As a person that consumes Bonsoy everyday (about 300=400mls) I've just been to the doctor to be tested as I have been suffering from hypothyroidism and taking an ever-increasing dose of Oroxine. As well I have numerous health issues even gaining weight at a phenomenal rate.My husband also consumes about 500mls of bonsoy every day and has been complaining of excess tiredness, is extraordinarily forgetful (sugar in the fridge)and is generally unwell. He too will be tested.

  7. Narelle, I hope that you and your husband both make a speedy recovery. Would you be kind enough to share the results of your tests with eFoodAlert readers?


  8. Bonsoy is around for many years (or decades). I believe the intake amount is important here. 300 - 500ml is A lot for DAILY consumption. Besides looking at the history of Korean and Japanese culture, these people are consuming Kombu in every other dishes or even as soup stock everyday. I believe is eating habit plays a part here too. Not just kombu itself. There are 2 questions here : 1) is it the batch of Kombu they use having some problem (high in iodine)? 2) Did the climate change resulted in the change of the ecosystem in the sea, such that kombu is now high in iodine??? I am inclined to link this to the climate issue noting the the sea temperature has gone up, more methane is releasing for the deep sea, it will not be difficult to find eating anything from sea is beginning to turn poisonous.

  9. I drank Bonsoy for over 5 years and can attest that my iodine levels are at normal range the entire time. I have had my iodine levels tested in the past 1-2 years regularly because of hereditary hypothyroidism (my sisters and female cousins all have it). So it seems the Bonsoy has had NO EFFECT on my physiology. It's the best quality, no added refined sugars and no gloopy chalky residue. I'll be buying it again as soon as it becomes available.

  10. If we're going to get excited by Iodine levels, then we should really look at the substantial evidence of Iodine levels in local water supply and it's effects on health - as referenced by this scientific study in Denmark, with references to studies in Australia -
    A study
    from Australia found seasonal fluctuations in iodine
    content of the water supply (3–10 mg/l) correlating to
    fluctuations in goitre frequency. The variations were
    possibly due to dilution of water reservoirs with melted
    snow at spring time (17).
    17 Hales I, Reeve T, Myhill J & Dowda K. Goitre: seasonal fluctuations
    in New South Wales. Medical Journal of Australia 1969 1 378–

  11. Very interesting story above from Francis. I share a similar experience in that I was a regular bonsoy drinker (300-500mls /day) and have been unwell since mid-December. My main symptons have been extreme fatigue, fuzzy vision, bouts of nausea and changes in my mood. My blood tests show an issue with my thyroid.

    I am usually a very fit and able 27 year old and eat very healthily. I went to have an x-ray today and the radiologist asked if I was a bonsoy drinker. I said "yes, but wouldn't that be out of my system by now. How could it be related to my current thyroid problems?" to which he responded "you're not the first one." I was shocked, hence came home and did a quick google search and found this blog. I get the results tomorrow morning as to whether I have under/over active thyroid.

    Suggest anyone else who has been seriously lethargic / generally feeling unwell to have their thyroid checked out asap.

  12. @Anonymous. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I join you in urging anyone who has been feeling generally unwell and who has been a regular consumer of Bonsoy to seek medical advice.

    Best wishes for a full recovery from your illness.


  13. Update on above from March 10 blog. I received a call from my physician and it is clear that I have recovering thyroiditis. Although I dont need medication, thankfully, I need to make some strict diet changes and my specialist is very eager to discuss my bonsoy drinking history.

    I am very surprised that there has not been a wider circulation of the potential ill effects of bonsoy more recently, as most of the press was focused on those feeling unwell at the time of the recall, rather than those with ongoing symptons.

    This needs to be brought to the attention of others, who were bonsoy drinkers and have ongoing chronic fatigue like symptons. The amount of time, worry and money I and presumably others above have gone through in resolving this, that may have been avoidable to some extent had we known of the severity and lasting effects of this potential problem, should not be experienced by others.

  14. An article in SMH today led me to do a Google search and to find this blog. I've noticed that there are several references to hypo-thyroidism but not to hyper- or thyroiditis. I'd be interested to know if Bonsoy is linked to all or one of these.

    In June, I found myself feeling so generally unwell, run down and anxious that I went to visit my doctor. There were a few external factors that impacted on this like a very stressful work environment at that time but I was also shocked to learn that I had a potential thyroid problem.

    After a blood test, my concerned doctor sent me to an endocrinologist. After a couple of additional thyroid-related tests, I was diagnosed with transient thyroiditis which was best case scenario after the initial diagnosis. I don't need any medication at this stage but i do have to have blood tests and more appointments with the endicronologist to monitor my thyroid.

    I don't drink cow's milk and usually drink either rice or soy milk instead. Before I became sick (resulting in 3 weeks off work) I was drinking both coffee and hot chocolate on a daily basis with soy milk. I always buy from the same two cafes and I know that one of them uses Bonsoy. I'm not sure about the other but will now check.

  15. @Anonymous (Sept 29).- I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. If you read my first post on the subject (, you will see mention that excess iodine can cause hyperthyroidism as well as hypothyroidism.

    The affected Bonsoy was recalled by the importer. Bonsoy that is now on the market has been reformulated without the offending ingredient and the reformulated product was approved by the government before being allowed onto the market.


  16. My comment is not about Bonsoy, however it is to do with Karicare soy formula. My daughter was diagnosed with an over-active thyroid when she was 3 1/2 years old. I began her on soy formula because she was very colicky and I was told she could be lactose intolerant. I was unable to breastfeed due to her being born premature, although I expressed for four weeks. She developed a goitre, eye problems and had a dangerously fast heartbeat. She was prescribed medication, but it was not until after I took her off the soy formula that her thyroid levels began to drop. I took her off the formula as I realised she was receiving a significantly high level of idodine every day, way over the recommended dose, however there were no warnings at all on the can of formula. Maybe Karicare need to be looking at their product also. Seven years later, my daughter is still receiving treatment to keep her thyroid levels normal, although ultimately she may need radium therapy to destroy her thyroid altogether then go on thyroid supplements.

  17. @Amanda.-I am passing your comment along to FSANZ. There may have been changes to the ingredients since you fed this formula to your daughter. Nevertheless, I thought that FSANZ should at least be made aware of your story.

    I do hope that your daughter's health improves.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.


  18. @Amanda.- I have just received the following reply from my contact at FSANZ:
    "Thanks for your email which I shall pass on. The problem with Bonsoy was not the soy itself but added seaweed extract with high levels of iodine. I would also strongly recommend that your reader mention this to her daughter’s specialist."

    Please make certain that your daughter's specialist is fully aware of her dietary history.

    Best of luck to you and your family.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.