Today, the UK Food Standards Agency released the following warning statement:
"Food safety authorities in Australia and New Zealand have informed the Food Standards Agency about high levels of iodine in a soya drink called 'Bonsoy', which some people use as an alternative to milk. We are investigating the distribution of this product in the UK and will take action if necessary.Nine adults and a child in New South Wales, Australia, have been diagnosed with thyroid problems and also reported drinking Bonsoy.The Bonsoy packs affected by this problem have best before dates up to and including 3 November 2011 and are distributed in 1 litre Tetra Pack containers.This soya drink is enriched with a seaweed product that naturally contains iodine. Iodine is an essential element required to create hormones for the thyroid, but higher levels than normal may affect the way the thyroid works. However, most healthy people will not be affected by any slight excess of iodine.People who drink a lot of this product, including toddlers fed soya drinks as an alternative to milk, could be at risk. If you are at all concerned about drinking this brand of soya drink as your main alternative to milk, then you may wish to consider an alternative brand until our investigations are complete."
Clearly, the Australians are taking care to advise other countries of this serious health threat. I have to wonder why the New Zealand food safety authorities are being so slow to issue their own recall notice – especially as the Australian recall notice made it very clear that Bonsoy had was available in New Zealand as well as in Australia.
Meanwhile, in case anyone thinks that this is a tempest in a teapot, I received this communication yesterday from a new reader from New South Wales, Australia who asked to remain anonymous.
"Just reading your bonsoy recall note.
I had it with my cereal every morning and was diagnosed with thyrotoxicosis.I only caught the recall on the radio by accident. The recall was done Christmas eve with little publicity."
Thyrotoxicosis is also known as hyperthyroidism, and can be caused by ingesting too much iodine.
After browsing comments posted on various blog sites, I am highly doubtful that this problem is limited to the ten victims that have been acknowledged in Australian government news releases so far.
If you have been a regular consumer of Bonsoy Soy Milk and you would like to share your experience – good or bad – please post a comment or email me directly. I would especially appreciate hearing from Bonsoy consumers who live outside of New South Wales, Australia.