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Daily Harvest identifies ingredient that led to illnesses and recall

A Daily Harvest delivery in Lafayette, Calif., in 2021. (Gado/Getty Images)

Vegan frozen-food delivery service Daily Harvest has identified the ingredient in its French lentil and leek crumble that sickened consumers, leading the company to recall the product last month. Tara flour, which comes from a seed typically grown in Peru and is used as a protein source and thickening agent, is the culprit, the company said in a note to customers on Tuesday.

“Our investigation team will continue working with the FDA, the tara flour producer and others to help determine what specifically made people sick,” the company said, adding that it does not use the ingredient in any other products. Daily Harvest said it has determined that the problems are isolated to the lentil and leek crumble, and that its supply chain and manufacturing processes are safe.

Last month, the company — a celebrity-backed brand that markets itself as being better for consumers and the environment — issued a recall of the crumbles in response to complaints from customers who said they had experienced stomach, liver and gallbladder issues after eating it. It said it had enlisted the Food and Drug Administration as well as “microbiologists, toxin and pathogen experts as well as allergists” to detect problems.

Amid recall and illness claims, Daily Harvest meal service enlists FDA

The FDA on July 14 said its investigation into the problems was ongoing, and said that it had so far received 277 reports of illness related to the crumbles. It urged anyone who had purchased the product to throw it away and anyone who consumed it to be on the lookout for symptoms “including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, itching with no rash, gastrointestinal illness, nausea, fatigue, body aches, severe abdominal pain and/or fever.”

Daily Harvest said on June 24 in a message to customers that it had received about 470 reports of illness or adverse reactions to the crumbles and that the company distributed 28,000 units of them through online and retail sales, as well as some given to customers.

Daily Harvest is already facing lawsuits and public scrutiny over the product. A woman in Tulsa is suing the company after being hospitalized twice, diagnosed with “liver and gallbladder dysfunction” and ultimately having her gallbladder removed. Her attorney, food-safety lawyer Bill Marler, says he represents 230 people sickened by the product and that his firm is conducting its own investigation into the product.

A representative for Daily Harvest did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the litigation or the investigation.