There is just something a tad funny about this recall… I would love to be able to find out a bit more information about it – so I’m doing some digging and will let you know.
The official story is that there is a soy milk product on the market Bonsoy which contains Kombu, a type of seaweed. This particular brand was said in news articles to contain unacceptably high levels of iodine which has led to 10 people suffering from thyroid complaints. Hmmmm.
Here is the official story:
“Authorities are warning against drinking Bonsoy soy milk after 10 people, including a newborn baby, fell ill with thyroid problems in NSW.
The product was found to contain unusually high levels of iodine, which may affect the thyroid and cause people to feel unwell, Food Standards Australia (FSA) said.
The milk is being recalled nationally, and should not be used by coffee shops, retail and other food outlets, FSA said.
A healthy daily iodine intake is about 80-150 micrograms for adults.
Testing found drinking just one-eighth of a cup of Bonsoy, which is imported from Japan and contains seaweed, would exceed the daily safety limit of 1,100 micrograms, FSA spokeswoman Lydia Buchtmann said.
“These are extremely high levels,” she told AAP.
The authority was alerted after the nine people, aged between 29 and 47, and child, reported using the brand.
“They are all okay. Once you stop consuming it, your (iodine) levels go down,” Ms Buchtmann said.
She said there were no obvious symptoms from excessive iodine intake, but people may feel generally unwell or lethargic.
Anyone drinking the product over a prolonged period who thinks they may be affected is urged to consult their doctor.”
Now there are two things that I find particularly interesting about this story. One is the levels of iodine found in the milk (which occurs naturally as a part of the seaweed component). They claim 1100mcg which is the upper limit of “safety” in Australia was found in just 30ml of soy milk.
In Japan they consume up to 45mg of iodine in their normal daily diet – which is more than 40 times the Australian recommendation of the upper limit of safety. So something is very off between our acceptable level of iodine in the diet and the Japanese levels…
In Australia, we are notoriously low in iodine – a study recently performed at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, found that 70% of pregnant women were deficient in iodine – and to make that worse, the iodine was measured using the extremely low recommendations which Australia finds acceptable.
In the past, Lugol’s Iodine Solution was used widely as a remedy for many, many illnesses. One drop of Lugol’s Solution contains 6500mcg of iodine – six times the “upper limit of safety”. And this was frequently used in doses of 10 drops per day. Personally I have taken Lugol’s Iodine at a level of 8 drops a day for several months without adverse effects; so that does lead me to question what else may be contributing to the thyroid problems found due to drinking this particular brand of soy milk.
Soy milk, as many of you know is not a product that I recommend anyone drink anyway. It is a highly processed product, soy is indigestible in nature unless it is fermented, and it contains endocrine disruptive phytochemicals which can INHIBIT thyroid function.
So it is possible that the people drinking the soy milk had some form of compromise in thyroid function from the soy to start with. Soy is also one of the top five allergy foods which in itself can disrupt the immune system which may contribute to the auto-immune problems of Graves Disease. Then putting high dose iodine on top of this may have had some type of negative effect on the thyroid gland, bringing on the very distressing hyperthyroid states these people were suffering from. Although I would need a lot more information before coming to any firm conclusion.
However, I think this needs to be looked into at a deeper level, as the amounts of iodine in the soy are largely considered normal in a Japanese diet. My money would be betting that the soy itself is a part of the problem, not just the overload of iodine itself.