In June 2022, Daily Harvest issued a voluntary recall of its French Lentil + Leek Crumbles meal kit. In the original announcement, Daily Harvest stated that it had received “approximately 470 reports of illness or adverse reactions” associated with the meal kit.
The company sold approximately 28,000 units of this particular kit between April 28 and June 17, 2022. Sales occurred through online and direct delivery. Additionally, Daily Harvest sold this kit at its retail and pop-up stores in Chicago and Los Angeles. A few customers also received samples of the kit.
Lawsuits Surrounding the Lentil and Leek Crumbles Kit
To date, two customers have filed lawsuits against Daily Harvest. The lawsuits allege that the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles caused a serious illness that required surgery to correct.
A Portland resident filed one lawsuit against the company. The plaintiff stated that he had no major health problems before eating the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. After eating them, however, the complaint alleges that the “plaintiff became violently ill, required hospitalization, and endured the surgical removal of his gallbladder.” The lawsuit also claims that Daily Harvest’s “vaguely worded and insufficient warnings” didn’t do enough to warn other customers of the risk associated with the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles.
A woman who ate the recalled kit on two separate occasions in May also filed a lawsuit. The plaintiff went to a nearby emergency room with extreme pain after each instance. Doctors eventually diagnosed the patient with liver and gallbladder dysfunction, recommending gallbladder removal. The plaintiff’s gallbladder removal surgery occurred in June 2022.
Responses from Daily Harvest and the FDA
In June 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an investigation into the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. The FDA stated that it began the investigation after receiving at least 133 reports of “adverse events” from people who ate the meal kit and then became sick.
According to the FDA, consumer complaints included bouts of gastrointestinal illness and abnormal liver function. Some patients also reported needing gallbladder removal surgeries.
In a July 19, 2022 update, Daily Harvest founder and CEO Rachel Drori stated that the company was working with scientific experts to pinpoint the cause of adverse reactions to the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles kit.
In the update, the company stated that it, the FDA, and the CDC had ruled out several types of infections. They also ruled out the presence of several major allergens, pesticides, or heavy metals. The company stated that it believed tara flour had caused the reported cases of illness. Daily Harvest also stated that it was working with the FDA and the flour producer to further isolate the cause. The company also said that “the issue is isolated to French Lentil + Leek Crumbles” and does not appear to affect any other Daily Harvest product.
What to Expect from the Daily Harvest Litigation
The lawsuits against Daily Harvest allege several product liability and related claims, including negligence and negligence per se. One major unanswered question is the specific link or causal mechanism between the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and the plaintiffs’ respective gallbladder injuries.
Daily Harvest has stated that it has worked with microbiologists, toxicologists, and other experts to isolate the cause of the reported adverse reactions. The lawsuits against Daily Harvest are likely to call upon expert witnesses in these fields, as well as medical experts in hepatology and related fields, in order to draw causal connections between the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and the plaintiffs’ injuries.
Customers may file more lawsuits as well. It remains to be seen whether the cases will require class action consolidation.