Daily Harvest, an online meal kit service, is facing heavy backlash following a voluntary recall of its French Lentil + Leek Crumbles product. Reports of a mysterious illness involving elevated liver enzymes began surfacing earlier this month.
28,000 units of the recalled product were distributed nationwide between April 28th to June 17th, the day Daily Harvest sent their first emails warning that “a small number of customers have reported gastrointestinal discomfort” due to eating the crumbles. Urging customers who hadn’t consumed theirs yet to dispose of it, an official statement was issued on June 19th.
In the statement, Founder and CEO Rachel Drori shared the company’s efforts to discover the recall’s root cause:
“We have spent the past ten days working with the FDA, state agencies and multiple independent labs, as well as experts in microbiology, food safety and toxicology to conduct testing. These tests cover common food-borne pathogens, toxins, and allergens. Results thus far have all come back negative. At this point, despite consulting with numerous experts, cooperating with FDA’s investigation, working with our supply chain, and conducting extensive testing, we have not yet identified a cause.”
Daily Harvest quickly gained popularity following their launch in 2016 by using Instagram influencers along with celebrity endorsements to promote the brand. Per CNN Business, Cory Silverstein, an Instagram influencer who owns his own organic skincare brand, says he received the product mid-May, as part of a PR package. Following his symptoms, he visited urgent care where extensive testing concluded an elevation in liver enzymes at 12 times the normal range. Silverstein is one of many influencers that reported similar symptoms as part of a group of 470 total reaction cases.
Following the backlash, Daily Harvest responded by offering a $10 store credit, a move considered insensitive by many of the victims. Looking to the FDA for answers, a statement was issued saying it cannot confirm or deny if an investigation is occurring, “However, the FDA takes seriously reports of possible adulteration of a food that may also cause illnesses or injury.”
While the investigation is ongoing, many long time Daily Harvest users are opting to cut ties with the brand. Let’s hope the root cause is discovered in a timely fashion and no other illnesses occur.