The New Journos

Daily Harvest identifies likely culprit behind hundreds of illnesses

Daily Harvest says investigators believe one ingredient is to blame for gastrointestinal issues that sickened hundreds of people and prompted the recall of the food company’s French Lentil + Leek Crumbles in June. 

“At this time, we have identified tara flour as the cause of the issue,” Rachel Drori, founder and CEO of the vegan meal-kit delivery service, said in a blog post. 

Made from the seeds of tara trees grown in Peru, tara flour surfaced as the likely cause after weeks of investigation by microbiologists, toxicologists and three labs, Drori said. Work continues with the unidentified flour producer and the Food and Drug Administration to figure out what specifically made customers ill, she added. 

“We have only used this Ingredient in French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and we are no longer sourcing from this producer, who does not provide any ingredients for our 140+ other items,” Drori wrote. “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.”

Daily Harvest said last month that it had received 470 complaints of illness, including potential liver damage. The New York-based company also announced that it was recalling 28,000 units of the dish shipped to customers across the U.S.

Influencers say they got sick

Additional reports of people falling ill surfaced on TikTok after online influencers were sent the product as part of a public relations campaign by Daily Harvest. In a video posted on TikTok, creative director Abigail Silverman described being hospitalized with severe gastrointestinal pain a day after consuming the crumbles. 

Others also took their complaints to social media, with Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter users reporting symptoms including nausea, vomiting and liver damage after eating the dish. One Reddit user wrote that their spouse had experienced “extreme fatigue, dark urine, low-grade fever and whole-body itching with no rash.”

Daily Harvest advised people to throw out the product in an earlier notice posted on its website. The company also said it had reached out to customers that purchased it.

Started in 2015, Daily Harvest is a food subscription company that ships frozen, pre-made food products to parts of the U.S. Celebrity investors in the company include Serena Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The French Lentil and Leek Crumbles were introduced in April as a food to cook and add to other dishes or products, according to the company.

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