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Daily Harvest Responds to Sick Customers Hospitalized by ‘French Lentil + Leek Crumbles’; lawsuit filed

SAN FRANCISCO — Food delivery service Daily Harvest has voluntarily recalled one of its products and is facing a lawsuit after people reported getting sick, being hospitalized for liver dysfunction and, in some cases, even having their gallbladder removed.

Carol Ready was a loyal Daily Harvest customer but says after eating the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles, she experienced stomach and shoulder pain that eventually took her to the emergency room.

“It was pretty hot straight away,” Ready said.

Ready says she had a CT scan, ultrasound, blood tests and a urine sample, but doctors couldn’t find anything.

She went home and after eating bland food for a week, she ate the Daily Harvest Crumbles a second time. The next morning she says her pain is back.

“It was acute, it was sharp, and then it got unbearable,” Ready said.

Back in the emergency room, she says, doctors found high levels of liver enzymes and dysfunction in her gallbladder.

“Pressure that didn’t let the fluids through, which can be really dangerous,” she explained while clenching her fist.

After four days in the hospital, her GP recommended that she have her gallbladder removed.

“She said it was the only way for me not to experience the pain,” Ready said.

According to the FDA website, on June 23, Daily Harvest voluntarily recalled all 28,000 units of French Lentil + Leek Crumbles due to consumer reports of gastrointestinal illness and potential problems with liver function.

The company said it had received about 470 reports of illness or side effects.

“Just a terrible pain in my stomach,” said Daily Harvest customer Melissa Mitzvah.

“All my liver enzymes were elevated,” said Daily Harvest customer Amber Elizabeth Orley.

“I ended up in the emergency room for a day,” Mitzvah said.

All this is a mystery to doctors.

“Probably like the worst three weeks I’ve ever experienced medically,” Mitzvah continued.

Food safety attorney Bill Marler represents nearly 100 Daily Harvest clients, including Ready. He filed a lawsuit on her behalf on Sunday.

“The only thing about foodborne illness cases is that often you never get a product that tests positive because people eat the evidence,” Marler said.

Daily Harvest told ABC7 News it is not commenting on pending or potential litigation.

In his latest statement, released on Monday, the company’s CEO says they’ve spent the last 10 days working on the root of the problem. So far, tests for foodborne pathogens, allergens and a variety of toxins have come back negative.

Some customers are unhappy with how Daily Harvest initially handled consumer complaints, writing in an email to customers on June 17: “A small number of customers have reported gastrointestinal complaints.” In the email also said “Lentils must be thoroughly cooked” and advised customers to “dispose of” the product.

“I didn’t connect the dots because the term ‘gastrointestinal’ is so generic it’s like people just get gas from it. They didn’t show the seriousness of the people who were struggling,” Orley said.

“They tried to pass the buck and pass it off as ignorance or incompetence on the part of consumers, instead of saying right away that we might have a problem,” Mitzvah said.

“Daily Harvest told us to throw everything away if we were sick. I would think they wanted to take the sample of the product that we had back to them and test it or send it to the FDA,” Orley said.

In his statement today, the CEO of Daily Harvest writes that the company is confident the issue is limited to the French lentil and leek crumbles and is not affecting any of the other 100+ menu items.

But some customers say they’re done.

“I can’t even bear to look at the packaging right now,” Mitzvah said.

Ready says she’s focused on healing her surgery.

“I just want to be healthy and be able to live and enjoy my life again,” Ready said.

Faced with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, she said she asked Daily Harvest for a refund on the roughly $10 crumbles.

“And I haven’t heard from them since,” Ready said.

Daily Harvest says everyone affected deserves an answer, and the company is striving to put that right.

In an emailed statement to ABC7 News, an FDA spokesman wrote:

“The FDA cannot confirm or deny whether an investigation is planned or ongoing that is not already listed in our outbreak investigation table. However, the FDA takes seriously reports of possible adulteration of a food, which can also cause illness or injury. Depending on the severity of the issue, an FDA investigator may visit the individual who made the complaint, collect product samples, and initiate inspections and future inspections of a company to help FDA identify problem areas at a manufacturing facility. Complaints are also discussed with company management during these inspections. It’s also important to note that if specific consumer guidance can be developed (e.g., food), the FDA and CDC will release outbreak advisories communicating that guidance and making it available.”

Daily Harvest wrote in an email to ABC7 News:

“While we do not comment on pending or potential litigation, upon receiving reports suggesting a possible association between the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and an adverse reaction, we took immediate action and initiated a voluntary recall. We have made numerous communications directly to consumers who received the product with instructions to discard and not eat. In parallel, we have launched an investigation to determine the root cause, working closely with the FDA, several independent parties Laboratories and a panel of experts that includes microbiologists, toxin and pathogen experts, and allergists. All pathogen and toxicology results have been negative so far, but we continue to conduct extensive testing to get to the bottom of this. Everyone affected deserves an answer, and we are committed to making it right.”

If you believe you have been affected, you can contact the FDA here.

If you’d like to speak to reporter Melanie Woodrow about your experience with Daily Harvest, you can email her at melanie.woodrow@abc.com or reach out to her on Twitter at @MelanieWoodrow or Facebook.

Check out more stories and videos from the ABC7 News I-Team.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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https://abc13.com/daily-harvest-lentil-crumble-lawsuit-gallbladder-crumbles/11999652/ Daily Harvest Responds to Sick Customers Hospitalized by ‘French Lentil + Leek Crumbles’; lawsuit filed

Dais Johnston

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