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Woolworths Soy Milk tastes a lot like reconstituted cows milk

I recently bought Woolworths brand Soy Milk and when tasting it realised it tasted like reconstituted cows milk (or like powered cows milk). I had a stomach ache after drinking it as I might at times with lactose. I am a vegan. Has anyone recently drunk Woolworth’s brand Soy Milk and felt it didn’t taste like Soy Milk?

Though I wrote to Woolworths about this (along with a complaint about poor treatment as a customer and questionable actions by a staff member) they have not replied. If lactose intolerant people are drinking animal milk with lactose this could cause them physical problems. I don’t know for sure if it is cows or animal milk but certainly everything about it seems to be. To be more exact it smells like pet food milk for cats.

I don’t have the money to pay for it to be tested and live in a basically remote area in context of the next main town so am not wishing to drive back there soon. Would love people’s in put on this.

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Welcome to the community @care

I am not into soy milk so cannot comment on that, but how did you write to Woolies? It is unusual not to get a response. How long has it been? In these times a few weeks is not excessive.

Another avenue to get attention is posting your message on their Facebook page, if you are a Facebook member. Anecdotal reports suggest it gets attention since it is comparatively publicly visible.

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Is it labelled ‘Woolworths’ or is it their Macro brand? My wife drinks Macro soy milk, and has done so for years, and has not noticed any recent changes in flavour.

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Was the container bloated, seal broken or packaging damaged before opening…and was it consumed within the time period after opening nominated on the packaging (within 5 days).

Air entering the container can cause taste to change over time. Air can cause it to taste cardboardy or powdery if consumed outside its optimum consumption time or if the packaging was damaged prior to opening. Damaged packaging can be identified by bloated container or a squisher container than usual. It may also have and unpleasant or different smell. If it does have a different smell to usual which you have indicated, it may mean that the product has spoiled either through damaged packaging or through been open for a long time (>5 days) before consuming.

The labelling for the Woolworths store branded one states:

Enjoy the smooth and creamy taste of our Woolworths Soy Milk. Naturally free of Lactose and Gluten it’s a delicious alternative to traditional dairy.

and ingredients are:

Water, Soy Protein (4%), Maltodextrin (from Corn), Canola Oil, Sugar, Acidity Regulators (526, 332, 504), Emulsifier (450), Thickener (509), Stabilisers (460, 466), Natural Flavours, Vitamins (Vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12)

For the Woolworths Macro LL organic soy milk the ingredients are:

Filtered Water, Organic Whole Soybeans (17%), Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Sugar, Organic Rice Syrup, Mineral Salts (Calcium Carbonate), Sea Salt

And for the Woolworths chilled organic soy milk:

Filtered Water, Organic Whole Soya Bean (16%), Organic Rice Syrup, Organic Sunflower Oil, Mineral Salt (Calcium Carbonate), Sea Salt, This product contains 16% Soya Beans

All are free of dairy and associated lactose.

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Hi phb

The product doesn’t in any way seem off. Indeed I first noted how well sealed it was and had bought it this time because another soy product I buy often seems to have a broken seal though is fine to drink. It clearly tastes in general like normal milk or perhaps to say like long life milk (animal milk not soy milk or other). The used by date is quite some time away. So basically I would applaud Woolworths for the packaging, price and seal but am extremely concerned that perhaps in the factory long life and/or reconstituted or even pet food milk for cats filled the soy milk containers instead of soy milk. The product labelling says Woolworths 1L Soy Milk. Though you have copied the product ingredients (and I have also looked them up) this doesn’t somehow mean that the liquid provided is what it is said to be - thus my concern.

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Hi Gordon, it is not the Macro brand. It is Woolworths 1L Soy Milk.

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Hey there, welcome to the community!

I’m severely lactose intolerant (I don’t think anyone needs to hear the details on what this means outside of sharp pains) and have never had an associated reaction to any Woolworths soy milk including the Macro range. Despite this, my personal experience does not rule out possible contamination.

It would be worth contacting Woolworths again about the soy milk specifically. Personally I would shy away from any previous issues for a swifter response/action from them. If there is an issue of contamination or expiry they will need to investigate and issue recall notices based on the results.

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This is unlikely as LL milk will be produced by different suppliers to its LL soy milk. Dairy processors usually only process dairy products…include LL milk.

It is also likely that the Woolworths Soy is produced by one of the manufacturers Woolworths also stocks on its shelves. They could have changed suppliers causing a slight change in recipe and taste.

Also damage packaging can include packaging seals which don’t seal perfectly, and can’t be seen with the naked eye. The packaging may look okay at first glance, but its contents can be affected.

Woolworths also guarantee their store branded products…and if you return it to Woolworths you should get a refund. Store staff will also know if there have been other returns of the same product and batch because of say change in taste or a manufacturing problem (such as poor seals causing spoiling).

The other thing is if you have changedbor taking new medications, this can sometimes change taste of some foods/drinks.

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Hi jhook,

Having had replies from Woolworths in the past which in no way resolved or even recognised the complaint at the time (not too many complaints from me but when there have been the response is completely unsatisfactory), I am not really up to contacting them too much. From what I understand you drink Woolworths Soy Milk - I’m wondering if you would like to pick up a recent Woolworths Soy Milk from Woolworths and have a taste. This is not the macro but the simple 1L plain Woolworths Soy Milk with a used by date around the end of 2020.

As a vegan I have tasted various brands of soy milk and I tend to go for whatever says organic. Due to weeks of difficulty buying the soy milk I normally might buy and also due to wanting to see whether Woolworths brand had a better seal than some of the others, I purchased Woolworths Soy Milk a couple of days ago. When I opened it at home there was no question it was very different and a few more sips left me feeling strongly that this was a long life milk but not soy milk. I am hoping that those reading this thread may test it out in terms of taste for themselves and also hoping someone who is able, may do a lab test on the constituents of the Woolworths Soy Milk 1L product which expires in December 2020.

Thanks for your reply. Thanks to everyone replying.

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I tend to switch brands quite often depending on price and need. Certain brands have reacted better as cooking substitutes while some are perfect for my morning coffee or tea, and as you would know, taste and smell tends to vary across the board (a certain brand being notorious for its horrendous smell).

Out of personal curiosity, if this issue occurred with Macro brand - what purpose would you find from trying buy and taste plain Woolworths branded soy milk?

I would be happy to buy a carton to test, although I personally believe this warrants some level investigation from Woolworths and not an individual due to time and resources. A number of factors could effect taste/smell/physical reaction so it is difficult to pinpoint this without evidence - another reason a further complaint should be flagged with Woolworths.

This is great advice in bringing the issue to their attention and a larger audience. You may even find that other people agree with you. As consumers, there’s no real measurement we can look at to what warrants an investigation and recall from the company - bringing this into the public eye is a great way for them to notice and gets others to share their experience with the product too.

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Jhook, I’m not sure where you got the idea that “the issue” occured with a Macro brand. I most often buy organic soy but change around depending what is there and what is on special. There is VitaSoy and a number of other brands I buy. I didn’t remember which one had a poor seal but knew I hadn’t tried Woolworths plain Soy Milk before so tried that. Also the choice has not been great over the past COVID 19 restriction weeks. I get to town once every two to three weeks and have missed out on a lot of things I ordinarily buy.

Other matters were sort of leading me to make a quick decision other than the norm. The Woolworths in the town I go to was not making it clear whether there was a restriction on how many soy milks and three weeks prior, when last in town, I bought three of whatever soy milk was left there and had to put one back at the cash register. . Woolworths also changed where the milks and soy milks were. There was a tendency to try to see what to buy quickly so as not to be in the way of anyone else - the distancing thing. So with all that I quickly scanned my eyes over what might be new for me with a better seal and also cheap and got two. I hope this answers your curiosity, though I don’t really feel I should have to explain this all to you.

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My apologies @care, I misread what brand you said it was.

I was not curious about your reasoning of choosing to buy a specific brand, I was curious why you were asking me to buy the Woolworths brand specifically (I incorrectly thought you bought Macro)

Sorry for any confusion or offence.

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Its ok

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Hey @care,

I’ve had time to taste the Woolworths soy milk (Best before: Dec 2020). I’ve had no reactions as I would to dairy products, so I don’t think this is dairy milk. I tried it yesterday, so I should have had a reaction by now if it was.

Personally, I don’t think it tastes like dairy milk - although it does have a strong flavor for soy milk. I don’t think there’s anything ‘off’ with the product I tried.

I hope this is helpful to you in some way.

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@jhook thanks for trying the Woolworth 1L Soy Milk to see if it tastes like normal long life milk or not. All I can say is what I bought definitely tastes like a long life normal milk not soy to me. I have another one I bought on the same day and may open that and see if it is the same.

I have just been through a pretty horrid rigamarole from Woolworths on this matter and another. Though I have now had many emails from various Woolworth staff members, when I asked for a copy of my initial complaint they asked I give them my drivers licence and other private information. So I have to give away very private information just to see a copy of my complaint. As I didn’t have to give a drivers licence number etc to make the complaint I am unsure how they can say they will then be able to check my ID. So Woolworths staff have been emailing me about the complaint and the product matter repeatedly with neither of us providing such massive ID and now, just to obtain a copy of my complaint I have to entrust Woolworths with very very private information. Having taught Australian privacy principles I know this to be way out of line.

I’ve had enough and am appalled with how Woolworths deals with customer complaints and quality control inquiries. I will be going to the ACCC about this and further to the NSW Privacy Commissioner.

Have you tried to go back to the store you bought it from? Woolworths staff at the service counter are usually very friendly, obliging and also deal with complaints well. They will also take the matter further as well and will get back to you or their supplier will, if required.

What is the purpose of this? Have they refused a refund when you are entitled to one or not met their obligations under the ACL…from the information presented, it doesn’t appear to be the case.

As I have indicated above. If you take the unused or used/remaining soy milk container to the local Woollies service counter they will refund your money and also advise if there was a problem with other long life soy milks delivered to their store (as the same batch and delivery conditions would have been experienced by all the other stock sold around the same time).

Woolworths also will refund or allow you to exchange if you indicate that you believe that there is a problem and doesn’t taste like your regular Soy milk…even if it is proven that there is no problem with the particular product.

Many stores (Myer, Bunnings, Coles, Target etc) require identification when returning products, Woolworths online is not unique. I have had a recent experience where Bunnings asked for driver’s licence when returning something even with a receipt (they said that they are in a high theft area and had individuals returning to store to steal items shown in a receipt, then returning one set for a refund thus stealing on set of the items). ID is also asked for when there is no evidence of the purchase such as tax invoice. This is to prevent fraud or other unscrupulous behaviour.

Once again you perhaps have not read what I wrote. I will be going to the ACCC for four reasons. Firstly due to the way my complaint has been treated, secondly due to the way the product inquiry was treated, thirdly due to being asked for ID to recieve a copy of my complaint after already having many Woolworths staff correspond with my at my email address about the complaint and the fourth reason is connected to the reason for the complaint in the first place.

Usually when people make online complaints they recieve a receipt number and a copy of their complaint which they can print. With Woolworths when you make an online complaint you press to send it and it’s gone, with nothing to show but a mention of thanks for sending the form in. Later when you are contacted there is a ticket number but nothing to show again what the compliant was. Twice I have had a standard response from Woolworths showing the complaint was not actually attended to. In this case there was much correspondence back and forth and during that time much to show that the staff speaking with me didn’t actually have the details of the complaint at hand. When I finally asked they send a copy of the complaint I was told to write to their privacy department and given an address which bounced back. I wrote again and asked a senior person correspond and they said they wrote to the privacy team to ask they send a copy. This afternoon the privacy team wrote asking I send over the internet a copy of my drivers licence and other very personal information. There is no rational reason or lawful reason to ask for such ID in this case. This is not at all the same as going to the shop to get a refund where the ID can help verify who actually paid for the item in the first place.

I did not have to give my ID to send in a complaint and they cannot verify who the sender is through a drivers licence - or should not be able to according to privacy law as there is no legal connection of someones email address to their drivers licence in the case of a supermarket consumer. As I say I taught privacy principles and it is wrong to ask for more ID than can reasonably be asked further they would need to prove they can store such personal information correctly. They are not using the privacy laws correctly. In any case, though your profile shows you to be a staff member of CHOICE, it feels that you just don’t get what I have written and do not support my right to go to the ACCC or NSW Privacy Commissioner. Perhaps Woolworths would find you a great employee should you wish to work for them. If you are going to misread my post again please do me the favour of not attempting to reply as I tend to need to reply back and it’s an effort when what I wrote is misread.

I did read what you wrote and question why you have not approached the local store to which it was bought.

This generally accords with the ACCC website which states “that under the ACL remedies you can seek from the retailer who sold you the product”. If the retailer was a local Woolworths store, it is this store initially that should be approached for a remedy and to address your product concerns. If it is the online store, then it is the online store initially…noting that online items invariably can also be returned to a local store.

If one doesn’t get a remedy from the local store, then one can then escalate it to the retailers head office/business management.

It appears that you are trying to make a mountain out of potentially something which can be and most likely would be resolved by the local stores service desk.

As indicated, Woolworths is not unique in asking for ID when returning items, requesting a refund (or to verify one is a bonafide customer/complainant/information requester). If you go to the local store, there is a very high probability that they won’t ask for any ID and will give you a refund or exchange (under the ACL or their change of mind policy). They will also follow up the product’s taste concerns that you have. This option is available if you are concerned about providing identification for an online enquiry.

I have experienced where there was a piece of metal in a can of Australian homebrand tinned veges. We returned the opened can and piece of metal to our local Woollies store and they refunded the cost of the can and took our details (address, phone numbers, email etc). About a month later, the manufacturer of the product/cannery wrote to us apologising about the metal piece in the can and indicated that it was a one off. They indicate that they have controls in place to prevent such incidents occurring. For notifying them and also as a good will gesture, they also provided a $5 Woolworths gift card which was unexpected.

Woollies has a privacy policy which indicates how information is stored and used.

https://www.woolworths.com.au/Shop/Discover/about-us/privacy-policy

Such is available to anyone using the Woolworths online website. Woolworths, the ACCC (if privacy is under their banner which I believe it isn’t as it falls under the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner) and the NSW Privacy Commissioner will most likely point you to this policy.

I am not a staff member but one of the forum moderators, who try and assist those with issues they have in relation to consumer products.

We also provide advice, based on experience, on the best way to resolve such issues.

Again you have not read what I wrote. I have not spoken of having to produce ID to return goods. What I have written is clear. I am happy you are not a staff member of CHOICE.

  1. I HAVE spoken to my local store and other customer service members re my complaint and re the product matter.
  2. After much discussion I wanted a copy of my complaint sent because clearly the different staff members speaking to me had not read the original complaint nor had the read about the soy milk
  3. I was told to get a copy of my complaint I had to send a copy of my drivers licence and other ID even though to make an online complaint I never needed such ID and even though sending my ID would not prove I was the person with the email address they were corresponding with.
  4. Request for such personal information without a legal reason is against Australian Privacy laws

No more response to you phb as it is beyond useless

Apologies, I didn’t recall a previous post where you said that you had visited your local Woolworths store to discuss the soy milk you purchased from them and how you didn’t like the way it tasted. I am surprised that Woolies store did not offer a remedy under the ACL (refund/exchange), which seems different to experiences of many others. If this is the case, then you should possibly take it up further.

As I said above, As indicated, Woolworths is not unique in asking for ID when returning items, requesting a refund (or to verify one is a bonafide customer/complainant/information requester). They are possibly verifying you are who you say you are so they can release the complaint received by them to you. If they failed to do this and released a complaint to you, which they later found out was a different person, there could be a breach of privacy to the complainant. If they didn’t verify identify and released your complaint or any correspondence to anyone else who asked, would you think this was acceptable?

I won’t be posting any more as it appears you have your own reasons for taking it further.