$25m payout to people affected by toxic soy milk

spilled milk

The manufacturers of Bonsoy soy milk will pay a record $25 million to the 500 Australians allegedly affected by serious health problems after drinking the product. The milk contained a seaweed product which meant it had almost 50 times the recommended daily intake of iodine, contributing to a number of major health problems.

The Guardian reported that eventually in 2010 Bonsoy was recalled from shelves and a new recipe was released. By then, 500 people had come forward, saying they had suffered a range of issues from thyroid disease to chronic fatigue and miscarriages. The thyroid symptoms were in some cases so severe that the victims had to have surgery to have their thyroid removed.

The 500 people launched what Daily Mail Australia claimed was the largest class action suit in the country's history. The lead plaintiff was a 33-year-old who had been advised to drink more soy milk to help with lactation issues after the birth of her daughter. She was rushed to hospital suffering heart palpitations and unconsciousness. Her hair started to fall out, her gums bled, she lost muscle function and she was covered in boils. She was bedridden for two years.

The companies behind manufacturing, exporting and distributing the drink have not admitted liability and there was no formal court finding made against them. The $25 million settlement agreed between the plaintiffs and the defendants has not yet been approved by the court. The next hearing is on 29 January.

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Recalled products

This kind of problem is thankfully exceptionally rare. However products are recalled on a reasonably regular basis because they pose a potential risk of one sort or another. Within the past month Trading Standards has listed a recall of Asda chicken meals, M&S mini kebabs, Quorn cottage pies, Aycan dried apricots, and sunburst snacks golden raisins, because they contained allergens that were not listed on the pack.

Meanwhile Morrisons and Supervalu from Budgens whole British milk (with use by days of 5th November and 7 November) were recalled because they may have been contaminated with cleaning fluids during production.

Clearly the vast majority of products are safe, but it highlights how important it is to stay alert to recalls, to be sure you are not at risk. The Trading Standards website is a useful place to keep bookmarked, so you can check it regularly.

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