Daily Harvest, a service that offers home deliveries of vegan frozen food it claims is good for consumers and the environment, is grappling with allegations that one of its products sickened people. The celebrity-backed company is “working with a group of experts to help us get to the bottom of this” after complaints from customers who said they had experienced stomach, liver, and gallbladder issues after eating its French leek and lentil crumble, enlisting the Food and Drug Administration, “microbiologists, toxin, and pathogen experts as well as allergists” to identify any problems, it said in a note to customers posted Wednesday on Instagram.
"All pathogen and toxicology results have come back negative so far, but we're continuing to do extensive testing and will keep you updated," the company wrote in the post.
The company on Sunday said it had advised anyone who had purchased the product — a blend that includes lentils, butternut squash, quinoa, hemp seed, and cremini mushrooms and was marketed as a crunchy plant-based topping — to dispose of it.
That move followed reports on social media from people who said they had eaten the crumble and subsequently experienced a range of serious-sounding symptoms including extreme nausea, cramping, fever, body itching, and indications of liver problems. On Wednesday, Daily Harvest said in its Instagram post that it had been in touch with “customers who reported adverse reactions and are collecting data to further the investigation.”
A Daily Harvest representative did not respond to a query about how much of the product had been distributed, referring the Post to the language in the published statement. An e-mail from an FDA spokesperson said the agency could not confirm or deny an investigation that isn’t listed in its public list of outbreaks. (Daily Harvest isn’t named on it.) “Depending on the seriousness of the problem, an FDA investigator may visit the person who made the complaint, collect product samples, and initiate inspections,” the spokesperson wrote.
The company, which was founded in 2015 and attracted influencers and, reportedly, celebrity investors including Serena Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shaun White, and Bobby Flay, held itself out as a purveyor of sustainably harvested foods. “Daily Harvest is on a mission to make it really easy to eat more fruits + vegetables every day,” says the company’s website, which offers a variety of frozen bowls, smoothies, and flatbreads. “From seed to plate, we’re committed to a better food system, one that prioritizes human and planetary health.”
Customers expressed frustration with the way the company handled the issue. Daily Harvest added updates to several promotional Instagram posts noting a link to “an important message regarding our French Lentil + Leek Crumbles.” Commenters complained that the company was not being more forthright about the potential problems and inundated its posts with barbs. To a post featuring a whimsical image of potatoes peeled to look like people in bathing suits, with the caption “Sun’s out, spuds out,” one user replied: “Do you know what else is out? You trying to cover up the crumbles contamination … Zero transparency you lost a customer in me for life!!!!”