Just days after a flurry of people took to social media to warn others not to eat Daily Harvest’s French lentil and leek crumbles, a newly launched menu item that nearly 500 people allege made them violently ill, the food delivery company has been hit with what appears to be its first lawsuit.
An Oklahoma woman filed a product liability and personal injury lawsuit against Daily Harvest—the New York City-based company that sells vegan-friendly smoothies, bowls, and other foods—on Monday, alleging that after consuming the company’s lentil and leek crumbles, she had to have her gallbladder removed.
Daily Harvest recalled 28,000 units of the product, which launched in late April, last week after 470 customers reported suffering serious liver and gallbladder problems after consuming the lentil crumbles, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some customers also claimed that they were forced into emergency surgeries.
Among the victim’s was Cosmopolitan magazine’s digital creative director, Abby Silverman, whose nightmare story went viral on TikTok on June 18. Like many other influencers, she received a free package of the crumbles, which she says caused her extreme stomach pain and sent her to the hospital.
Carol Ready, the plaintiff in the new lawsuit, told the Times, “I ate the crumbles twice, unfortunately. Both times, within 48 hours, I was in the emergency room.”
She said her doctors found nothing wrong with her except for extremely high levels of liver enzymes until they did a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan and determined that she needed to have her gallbladder removed on June 22—just days after a friend alerted her to a Reddit forum and posts on Twitter addressing the voluntary Daily Harvest recall.
“It still didn’t change anything for me,” the 29-year-old Tulsa woman said. “The dysfunction was there. The damage was done.”
William D. Marler, who is Ready’s attorney told the Times, “We have been retained by almost 75 people, most with stories nearly identical to Ms. Ready. We have had all clients contact the FDA directly to share their symptoms. We are in the process of testing nearly two dozen leftover products to determine what ingredients in these products that would cause such severe symptoms.”
Daily Harvest issued a statement Monday, saying, “Everyone who has been affected deserves an answer, and we are committed to making this right.”
According to the company, roughly 28,000 packages of the crumbles were produced between April 28 and June 18. The units were primarily shipped out to subscribers who ordered them, with a smaller batch distributed at a retail location in Chicago and at a May pop-up store in Venice.
Since the product’s launch, “consumption of defendant’s products has caused an array of serious health complications, from gastrointestinal illness to liver and gallbladder dysfunction,” Marler, who has been litigating cases involving foodborne illnesses since 1993, told the Times.
Daily Harvest, which was founded in 2015, sent recall emails to customers on June 17 and June 19 addressing “gastrointestinal discomfort,” but didn’t specifically mention liver or gallbladder concerns. The company also posted information about its recall on social media and their first email included a reminder that the crumbles needed to be cooked.
Daily Harvest issued a news release on Thursday stating it had received 470 reports of illness connected to the crumbles and that it was investigating the issue with the Food and Drug Administration. On Monday, the company said, “We have reached out multiple times directly to consumers who received the product, instructing them to dispose of it and not eat it.”
The statement continued, “In parallel, we launched an investigation to identify the root cause, working closely with the FDA, multiple independent labs, and a group of experts that includes microbiologists, toxin and pathogen experts as well as allergists. All pathogen and toxicology results have come back negative so far, but we’re continuing to do extensive testing so we can get to the bottom of this.”
Also on Monday, the company’s founder and Chief Executive Rachel Drori said in an Instagram post, “We are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week on this. You deserve answers.”
She added, “I also want to reassure you that this issue is limited to [the crumbles] and does not impact any of our other 100+ menu items,” she said. “I recognize this is so frustrating. I am incredibly frustrated.”
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The post was flooded with comments, many of which included people criticizing the way the company has handled the outbreak.
One person commented, “Baby y’all are about to get tons of lawsuits. People are literally getting permanent organ damage and this is your response. You need to compensate the people who have been affected.”
Another person, who said they canceled their Daily Harvest subscription after a year, said, “It made me INCREDIBLY sad to do, but the mishandling of this by your company is egregious. I NEVER received one email about this, and had to learn about people getting sick from social media. What a slap in the face to your customers. You have failed.”
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