As of July 14, 96 hospitalizations and 277 illnesses around the country had been reported to the FDA. The federal agency is currently investigating complaints of "gastrointestinal illness and abnormal liver function" associated with the Daily Harvest's lentil and leek frozen products.
Lawsuits have been filed against the food company, including one on behalf of an infant. The agency said the last report of someone becoming ill was July 9.
The delivery service already initiated a voluntary recall of the product last month after complaints of becoming sick emerged. Some customers reported elevated liver enzymes, hospitalizations and even gallbladder removal.
Updated as of July 12, 2022, the company's founder and CEO Rachel Drori wrote on their website: "As we have shared, comprehensive testing to date has ruled out several potential root causes, including Hepatitis A, Norovirus; a range of mycotoxins, including aflatoxins; food-borne pathogens, including Listeria, E. Coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph), B. Cereus, and Clostridium Species; and major allergens including egg, soy, milk and gluten. Tests have also confirmed that there are no pesticides."
She added they have not done testing yet as thorough scientific processes require extensive laboratory analysis.
"We are committed to finding answers and we remain confident that this issue is isolated to French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and does not impact any of our other 140+ items," she stated.
On the FDA website, the agency wrote in the recommendations section to not eat, sell or serve recalled products from Daily Harvest as they have an ongoing investigation.
"Consumers who may still have the recalled product in their freezers should throw it away," FDA said.
Bill Marler, a lawyer who represents nearly 100 people with potential claims against the company, said that the victims are relatively young and healthy, and all of them are having essentially the same symptoms, the same liver dysfunction and the same pain.
And yet the precise cause of the ailment remains a medical mystery.
"The symptoms for this are just not typical of what we would see with your traditional type of hazards in food," stated Martin Bucknavage, a senior food safety extension associate at Penn State University. He added that it's not something he has ever seen.
Daily Harvest customers have resorted to social media to air their concerns about being hospitalized and having severe stomach pains. One is Luke Tashie, who shared his recall email from Daily Harvest. According to him, he doesn't believe the company is taking a serious or speedy enough approach to the situation. He had "extreme liver pain" and was hospitalized after he consumed the product. He added that he is concerned about long-term liver damage.
Meanwhile, two lawsuits were filed this week on behalf of two children, including a four-month-old, who was said to have gotten sick from the product. According to a case filed in the State of New York Supreme Court, the baby and her mother were hospitalized after the mother ate the product. On May 25, the infant suffered vomiting and diarrhea and excreted dark urine after her mother consumed the product and breastfed her. After consuming the product again in June, the mother was hospitalized with extreme abdominal pain and gastrointestinal distress from June 8 to 15, the lawsuit said.
Around the same time, the infant had a fever and gastrointestinal distress and started vomiting, as the mother continued to breastfeed during her hospitalization on the advice of her doctors, who did not know the cause of her illness.
Meanwhile, the vegan food company is committed to cleaning up the mess and reviving its credibility and reliability. But it seems to be taking so much time.
Back in June, Driori expressed her vexation on the issue. "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," she said. "I recognize this is so frustrating. I am incredibly frustrated."
Over the years, people have started becoming more aware that organic foods could best benefit one's health. Healthy food manufacturers thrived and modern means of purchasing these followed suit. The rise in the popularity of healthy food products has been rapid as consumer value drivers play a significant role in this important shift in healthy eating.
Though organic and healthy, food safety should not be sacrificed. Consumers are advised to read the labels not just for the unique selling points, but most importantly their nutritional facts, as marketing strategies could conceal "unhealthy" ingredients and even processes.
Consumers must be able to detect which products have heavy metals and toxic elements that could jeopardize health. It is also important to buy healthy food from trusted sources only and make sure that the suppliers test their products routinely.
Although FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition seeks to ensure that these foods are safe, sanitary, nutritious, wholesome and honestly and adequately labeled, consumers are still advised to double check as this federal agency arm could be "influenced" by "motivated politics or business."
Watch the below video that talks about the importance of food safety.
This video is from the yummy goodies! channel on Brighteon.com.