(NewsNation) — Food delivery service Daily Harvest is now facing lawsuits after identifying the ingredient it says sickened hundreds of people — including some who say they had to have their gallbladders removed.
The New-York based company issued a voluntary recall on June 17 for all of its French Lentil + Leek Crumbles in response to consumer reports of gastrointestinal illness and potential liver function issues.
It took weeks for the company to identify a possible cause as several people became seriously ill after consuming its product with symptoms that initially puzzled doctors.
The company has since identified the ingredient “tara flour” as the ingredient it said sickened consumers.
“At this time, we have identified tara flour as the cause of the issue,” Daily Harvest founder and CEO Rachel Drori said in an advisory to customers.
Attorney Paul V. Nunes and nationally-known food safety attorney Bill Marler represent Carol Ann Ready, suing the company in federal court.
“What’s unique about this the fact this is unlike other food-borne illnesses,” Marler said. “You had hundreds of people going to ERs across the country with acute liver failure and the public health system is not really designed for that.”
Ready describes experiencing abdominal pain and gastrointestinal discomfort which led to required hospitalization.
After consulting with her doctor, Ready then underwent surgery to have her gallbladder removed.
Sarah Schact, another person who became ill after consuming the product, said she is still having problems with her vision, is experiencing back pain and has numbness in her fingers since she became sick.
“We really don’t know how long it will last,” Schact said. “I am grateful that some of my labs are coming back down into normal after having sky-high liver enzyme levels and other markers that really sent me running to the ER because I wanted to figure out what was going on with me.”
The Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are actively investigating consumer complaints about illnesses thought to be linked to eating the Daily Harvest item.
According to the FDA, there were 277 reports of illness and 96 hospitalizations related to the crumbles and it urged anyone who had purchased the product to throw it away. According to the company, it received approximately 470 reports of illness or adverse reactions.
From April 28 to June 17, 2022, approximately 28,000 units of the recalled product were distributed to consumers nationwide. It was sold through online sales in addition to two retail locations: the Daily Harvest store in Chicago, IL, and a “pop-up” store in Los Angeles, CA.
Tara flour is made from tara tree seeds, native to South America and used as a protein source and thickening agent, according to the company.
The company stated it only used tara flour in its French Lentil + Leek Crumbles, saying, “We are no longer sourcing from this producer who does not provide any ingredients for our 140+ other items.”
“This was the first and only time we’ve used tara flour, which has been available and used in the North American market as a plant-based source of protein prior to our use. Our investigation team will continue working with the FDA, the tara flour producer and others to help determine what specifically made people sick.”Daily Harvest
Daily Harvest is a celebrity-backed brand that was started in 2015 by CEO Rachel Drori. The company’s mission is to make it easier to eat more sustainable fruits and vegetables every day, according to its website.
Consumers who have symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care. The company encouraged anyone with additional questions or concerns to contact them over email, visit their website or call 1-888-302-0305, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST.