Japan’s Muso Co. Ltd–the company that claims it introduced the United States to soymilk 28 years ago–is keeping mum about the alerts and recalls being issued around the globe over the high iodine levels being found in its Bonsoy Soy Milk.

Osaka-based Muso, which advertises itself as “your source for the world’s best Japanese and organic foods,” has not responded to inquiries by Food Safety News about its Bonsoy product.

It appears Bonsoy Soy Milk produced by Muso is distributed in Asia, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand; not in North America.

Some information was found on the company’s website. The name “Bonsoy” comes from French meaning “wonderful soybeans,” it says.

It tells how Bonsoy is made–First, soybeans are shredded, skinned, and deodorized by killing enzymes by heat. Then soybeans are smashed and separated from pulp to make soymilk. The soymilk is mixed and adjusted with other ingredients, then sterilized. This soymilk undergoes the deodorizing process once again, and is then cooled before packed.

Muso does not provide a list of Bonsoy ingredients on its website, and it is not clear if the “Kombu” seaweed with naturally high levels of iodine is listed as an ingredient on Bonsoy packages.

There are also questions about what function seaweed plays in the soymilk.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) announced on Christmas Eve that it found unusually high iodine levels in Bonsoy Soy Milk. 

Other national food safety agencies have confirmed those findings and prompted worldwide alerts and recalls.

Denmark’s Food Standards Agency managed the withdrawal from market of all production lots of Bonsoy Soy Milk sold by Romer Products and Helsam.  The soymilk was also being sold in health food stores and over the Internet.

Denmark urged consumers to discard the product and seek medical attention if suffering from general malaise without any known cause.

The Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety (CFS) issued an alert, advising residents that Bonsoy Soy Milk had been imported into the city and urging consumers not to drink it.  CFS told merchants to stop selling Bonsoy in Hong Kong.

Ireland’s Food Safety Authority has ordered business owners to remove the product from their inventories and return it to suppliers.  All distributors, retailers, and consumers of Bonsoy Soy Milk were warned about the elevated iodine levels.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore said high levels of iodine in soymilk are linked to cases of Thyrotoxicosis.

“Soy milk is not known to be a source of iodine, hence consumers of soy milk would not associate this type of product with high iodine levels,” said the AVA statement.

“AVA has therefore required the importer and retailers to recall the implicated product from the market,” the Singapore food safety agency said.

Specifically recalled is Bonsoy Soy Milk in a 1 Liter package, made in Japan, with a “best before” date of 03 November 2011.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) issued a similar alert over the Japanese-made soy milk that has now sickened ten people in Australia.

Irish tests have found drinking one cup of the soymilk could exceed the tolerable daily intake for iodine by more than 34 times for children and seven times for adults.

Excessive consumption of iodine at high levels may affect the thyroid gland and cause thyroid disorders.  People who have consumed the product and do not feel well were advised to seek medical attention immediately.  Pregnant women were advised to tell their obstetrician “so that appropriate tests can be conducted for their babies at birth.”

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) joined the recall last week, and is investigating Bonsoy distribution in the UK and working with the FSIA.

Health officials said most healthy people could occasionally consume high iodine levels without doing themselves any harm.