Over the past few weeks, a number of Daily Harvest customers have reported debilitating pains, hospitalization, and even the need for gallbladder removal surgery, issues which are being tied to the plant-based meal delivery company’s French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. And according to an extensive Reddit thread, many are speculating that the specific cause of this severe food poisoning is related to something called aflatoxin, the symptoms of which appear to align with the symptoms of those who ate the crumbles.
As of June 23, there have been about 470 reports of negative reactions from people who consumed the crumbles, according to Daily Harvest.
Here’s a look into the symptoms of aflatoxin toxicity, as well as the symptoms the affected people have reported, and how Daily Harvest is responding to this crisis.
Daily Harvest’s French Lentil + Leek Crumbles have been recalled for causing painful health issues.
In May, Daily Harvest debuted a new product called French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. As customers began receiving and eating the crumbles, many began noticing a number of painful symptoms.
Customers took to TikTok, Reddit, and other online platforms to share their symptoms after eating the product. Overall, common symptoms included stomach pains, nausea, body aches, fever, abnormal stool, and elevated liver enzymes, as well as needing to be rushed to the emergency room and gallbladder removal surgery.
One customer told The Daily Beast that she experienced upper stomach cramps, white stool, a low white blood cell count, and hospitalization. Another told the outlet she experienced excruciating pain, vomiting, and inflammation, while her husband suffered from dark urine, extreme itchiness, and liver damage, landing them both in the emergency room. She told The Daily Beast that her medical bills total around $20,000.
At first, many did not realize what was causing their illness — but once a few affected customers made the connection to the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and shared their stories online, many more were able to make the connection as well.
So what exactly about the crumbles is causing these horrific reactions? On the comprehensive Reddit thread, many people are speculating it’s aflatoxin, though there is not yet any conclusive evidence of that. But what is aflatoxin?
Aflatoxin symptoms align with the symptoms of those who ate Daily Harvest crumbles.
As explained by the National Library of Medicine, when fungal action occurs during the “production, harvest, storage, and processing” of things including soil, grains, and decaying vegetation, it can result in a toxic mold strain known as aflatoxins.
Consuming aflatoxins on just one occasion can cause a number of immediate symptoms, including stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, and convulsions, all of which are signs of serious liver damage — and all of which were reported by many people who consumed Daily Harvest’s French Lentil + Leek Crumbles.
Exposure to aflatoxins over a long period of time can cause serious issues including growth delays, a liver disease called cirrhosis, and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), as per the National Library of Medicine. It is unlikely that anyone who consumed Daily Harvest’s crumbles faced long-term exposure.
One affected customer — who has been active in the Reddit thread and even turned their crumbles over to an FDA investigator — stated that they spoke with the investigator about aflatoxins. “He said you can often see them growing. He said given the list of ingredients on the package that it is a possibility but that he did NOT want to speculate. They have said it could be any number of things,” the Redditor stated.
Customers believe that Daily Harvest’s response is not enough to repair the damage done.
As stories of Daily Harvest food poisoning began to go viral over the past few weeks, Daily Harvest remained publicly quiet regarding the scandal, even deleting posts about the crumbles from its social media pages.
At first, all the company appeared to do was send an email to customers who had purchased the crumbles, which acknowledged that a “small number of customers have reported gastrointestinal discomfort” after eating the crumbles, noted at what temperature the crumbles needed to be cooked, told people to throw away any uneaten crumbles, and offered a $10 credit to affected customers.
The email was heavily criticized, with many affected customers demanding that Daily Harvest take more serious action — namely, people want Daily Harvest to pay off medical bills. Daily Harvest did not immediately respond to Green Matters' request for comment.
Finally, on June 19, Daily Harvest announced that it was working with the FDA on a recall of the crumbles, as well as testing to discover exactly what is wrong with the crumbles. Results on FDA tests are expected within days, according to Reddit reports.
If you have French Lentil + Leek Crumbles at home, dispose of them; and if you consumed them, make sure to contact Daily Harvest and the FDA.