“I feel like I’ve been targeted with more Daily Harvest ads in the last 72 hours than I have in the last six months,” she says. “It just feels insensitive to continue promoting their product line when so many consumers are calling out for them to recall all their products—not just the crumbles.”
Caroline Sweet, a 37-year-old actor living in Los Angeles, has been experiencing “intense upper stomach cramps and pain,” fevers, dark urine, high liver enzyme levels, and extreme fatigue since June 14, she tells Bon Appétit. She believes it’s tied to eating the lentils. She’s understanding about the incident, but not Daily Harvest’s actions.
Sweet received an email from the brand addressing the illness allegations on June 17, while she was actively in the ER. The message, she says, sought to “minimize” customer experiences, implied the issue was a user error for not cooking the lentils long enough, instructed them to discard the product, and offered a $10 credit. “It’s not the fact that it happened,” she says, “it’s how they’ve handled it that makes me incensed.”
The email received by Caroline Sweet on Friday, June 17:
At Daily Harvest we are committed to our customers, and we take quality and safety seriously. Our technology enables us to take extraordinary and timely precautions that go well beyond standard practice. A small number of customers have reported gastrointestinal discomfort after consuming our French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. As included in our cooking instructions, lentils must be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165℉. Like some other vegetables, raw lentils contain a type of protein that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms unless thoroughly cooked.
While cooking lentils thoroughly is always recommended, out of an abundance of caution, please dispose of any French Lentil + Leek Crumbles you have received and do not eat them. You are a valued customer and we deeply appreciate your trust in us. It is one of our core values to go above and beyond for our customers, which goes hand in hand with our culture of continuous improvement. For the trouble, we have placed a $10 credit in your account for every bag of French Lentil + Leek Crumbles in your last box.
Thank you for being a loyal customer.
What’s causing the illness?
The cause is still unclear. Daily Harvest is running various tests in tandem with the FDA, and their early results have ruled out easily-identifiable biological pathogens, such as salmonella or E. coli. Firms like Bowersox Law and Marler Clark LLP PS, in Seattle, Washington, are also independently running tests. Marler Clark received over 30 inbound requests related to Daily Harvest as of Thursday, according to attorney and foodborne illness lawyer William Marler.
Many people online have started speculating what the cause might be. However, no official FDA comments have been made, and identifying the cause of foodborne illness is also famously challenging. In some cases, even with many reports directed at one restaurant, the results of testing can be inconclusive.
Marler stresses that it’s too early to tell if or how Daily Harvest might have messed up. “We need to figure out what is sickening people” first, he says.
What kind of legal action is being taken?
Bowersox is planning to file his first lawsuit by the end of day Friday. He expects to file five to 10 more from various districts around the country next week.