Daily Harvest recall: Influencers recount harrowing experiences with crumbles,

The direct-to-consumer brand has long utilized a network of online influencers to promote its products. Now several influencers, who say they were sickened, say the company’s lackluster handling of the crisis is putting new responsibility on the influencer community to warn the public.

It’s also exposing the swift fallout that can emerge when you aggrieve a demographic with such a wide internet reach.

“That is what built them up to be like a billion-dollar valuation company, is all these influencers who did the marketing for them,” he added. “At this point, it’s the influencers who are alerting the public that you might end up in the hospital if you eat this product.”

After consuming the product, Silverstein said, “I’ve never experienced pain like that — it’s the first time I felt kind of helpless.”

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In response to CNN Business’ multiple requests for comment, Daily Harvest sent the latest update the company posted on their website related to the voluntary recall.

“We want to make sure you have the latest update on our voluntary recall of French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. We are taking this very seriously and doing everything we can to get to the bottom of this. Your health and well-being are our top priority,” the blog post states, adding that it has reached out to impacted customers and is taking a number of steps to investigate the cause.

“We are working with a group of experts to help us get to the bottom of this—that includes microbiologists, toxin and pathogen experts as well as allergists,” the statement from Daily Harvest adds. “All pathogen and toxicology results have come back negative so far, but we’re continuing to do extensive testing and will keep you updated.”

An image of Daily Harvest's French Lentil + Leek Crumbles meal from their website.  Daily Harvest issued a voluntary recall Sunday of a lentil-based product, after receiving customer reports of gastrointestinal issues linked to its French Lentil + Leek Crumbles meal.
In an updated blog post Thursday evening, the company said it has received approximately 470 reports of illness or adverse reaction, and the investigation into the root cause remains ongoing. It added that some 28,000 units of the recalled product were distributed in the US between April 28 to June 17.

On June 17, the company first emailed people who received the product warning that “a small number of customers have reported gastrointestinal discomfort” after consuming the crumbles and urging those who still had them to throw them away. It first posted a statement warning the public not to consume the crumbles on June 19.

Launched in 2016, Daily Harvest’s emergence as a household name was linked in large part to its aggressive social media campaigns. The company has received multiple celebrity supporters, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams (representatives for Paltrow and Williams did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment).

The meal kit company announced last November that it had secured Series D funding that valued Daily Harvest at over $1 billion.

Influencers track down a united source for mysterious symptoms

Silverstein said he spent time in an urgent care center where doctors scrambled to figure out what was wrong. He tested negative for all forms of hepatitis, the initial suspect, and did a slew of blood tests that eventually indicated liver enzyme levels that were off the charts. He says that levels of important liver enzymes were elevated as much as twelve times the normal range.

He spent weeks not knowing the cause of the mysterious illness, until he said his wife saw a post from fellow influencer Luke Wesley Pearson, a content creator from Portland. Pearson was reporting shockingly similar symptoms, he said, and the two realized they had both received these crumbles from the company before they were launched on the public market.

Pearson told CNN Business that he underwent emergency surgery on June 12 to get his gallbladder removed after experiencing gastrointestinal issues after consuming the crumbles.

Various frozen healthy meal items (but not the crumbles that are part of the recall) are visible inside a Daily Harvest frozen meal kit box, Lafayette, California, October 14, 2021. (Photo by Gado/Getty Images)

Pearson says he tried the lentil crumbles twice, both times leading to intense stomach aches. It was the second try, however, that sent him to the ER. After symptoms that included “excruciating” stomach pains, fever, chills, itching of the hands and feet, and jaundice, Pearson underwent testing that revealed — just like Silverstein — elevated liver enzymes, as well as high bilirubin. Doctors ultimately decided to remove Pearson’s gallbladder.

For Pearson, it was only after seeing a viral TikTok by Abby Silverman that he realized the issues could be connected to the food he ingested immediately before his issues began. Silverman, a creative director in New York, posted a video that has garnered more than 100,000 likes on TikTok detailing her own experience after eating the Daily Harvest product. She said the lentils similarly landed her in the ER, twice, with alarmingly high liver enzyme levels. While she suspected it may be from the crumbles, she said she formally connected her medical crisis with the…

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