Daily Harvest meal kits have sickened nearly 500 people. They finally found out why – National
About a month after complaints of illness and hospitalization began pouring into Daily Harvest, the direct-to-consumer meal kit company says it now knows the reason why hundreds of people are falling ill after eating their food: tara flour.
Since June, Daily Harvest has faced a deluge of angry customers and social media influencers who have reported pain and mysterious symptoms after eating their « French Lentil & Leek Crumbles », with some reporting liver dysfunction and facing have the gallbladder removed.
On June 19, Daily Harvest issued a voluntary recall of the vegan lentil product, but by then 28,000 units of French Lentil & Leek Crumbles had already been sold or distributed. As of June 23, the company said it had received 470 reports of illness from people who ate the dish.
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“At this time, we have identified tara flour as the cause of the problem,” Daily Harvest announced on its website on Tuesday. « We have only used this ingredient in French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and we no longer source from this producer who does not supply any ingredients for our over 140 other items. »
Tara flour is made from the seeds of tara trees, native to South America.
« This was the first and only time we used tara flour, which was available and used in the North American market as a vegetable protein source prior to our use, » Daily Harvest said. « Our investigative team will continue to work with the (US Food and Drug Administration), the tara flour producer and others to help determine what specifically made people sick. »
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Social media influencers who received free Daily Harvest meal kits were among the first to sound the alarm that the company’s French Lentil & Leek Crumbles were making people sick.
Today, Daily Harvest faces several lawsuits from disgruntled consumers, some of whom ended up with hefty hospital bills after eating its lentils. Two of the lawsuits were filed on behalf of children, one of whom is a four-month-old nursing baby, according to NBC News.
Law firm Marler Clark represents 230 clients who are suing Daily Harvest for making them sick and managing partner Bill Marler said he was not surprised by Daily Harvest’s recent announcement.
Marler told NBC News that he told Daily Harvest’s attorney that tara flour was likely the cause of the illnesses, since French Lentil & Leek Crumbles was the only product that contained it.
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No one knows why tara flour causes such extreme reactions, Marler said.
« So there’s still work to be done, » he said.
Daily Harvest has made no public comment regarding foodborne illness outside of posts on its website and social media.
The company was launched in 2016 and has grown rapidly by marketing its meal kits through social media influencers. Last November, Daily Harvest announced that it had secured Series D funding that valued it at over US$1 billion.
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