PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) -- Days after meal-kit service Daily Harvest announced the voluntary recall of one of its products, the company has been hit with two lawsuits from individuals who said they had their gallbladders removed after consuming it.
Daily Harvest, a direct-to-consumer brand that relied on a network of online influencers to promote its products, announced earlier this month the voluntary recall of its French Lentil and Leek Crumbles after people who consumed it reported becoming ill.
A spokesperson for the Daily Harvest released the following statement to CBS3.
As soon as we identified a possible link between the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and an adverse reaction, we immediately took action and launched a voluntary recall. We have reached out multiple times directly to consumers who received the product, instructing them to dispose of it and not eat it. In parallel, we launched an investigation to identify the root cause, working closely with the FDA, multiple independent labs, and a group of experts that includes microbiologists, toxin and pathogen experts as well as allergists. All pathogen and toxicology results have come back negative so far, but we're continuing to do extensive testing so we can get to the bottom of this. Everyone who has been affected deserves an answer, and we are committed to making this right.
Several influencers told CNN Business last week that they spent time in the hospital with mysterious symptoms that puzzled doctors, including intense gastrointestinal pain and extremely elevated liver enzymes.
On Wednesday, Luke Wesley Pearson, a content creator from Portland, filed a personal injury lawsuit against Daily Harvest in an Oregon court. The complaint states that Pearson was healthy and had no significant health problems prior to consuming the crumbles.
"After consuming the Daily Harvest Lentil Crumbles, plaintiff became violently ill, required hospitalization and endured the surgical removal of his gallbladder," the complaint states. The suit also alleges Daily Harvest didn't do enough to warn people about the dangers of its product, and "issued vaguely worded and insufficient warnings to its customers and influencers."
Carol Ann Ready, a Daily Harvest customer, is also suing the company after she said she also was hospitalized and had her gallbladder removed after consuming the crumbles. The complaint recounts two emergency room visits in May after consuming the product twice. She described her pain as "a 9 or 10 out of 10," the complaint states.
Ready was eventually diagnosed with liver and gallbladder dysfunction and doctors said the recommended course of action was to remove her gallbladder, according to the complaint. She underwent surgery to have her gallbladder removed on June 24, the court documents state.
In a statement Thursday, Daily Harvest said it does not comment on pending litigation, but stressed the steps it has taken to address "an adverse reaction" to its French Lentil and Leek Crumbles.
"We have reached out multiple times directly to consumers who received the product, instructing them to dispose of it and not eat it. In parallel, we launched an investigation to identify the root cause, working closely with the FDA, multiple independent labs, and a group of experts that includes microbiologists, toxin and pathogen experts as well as allergists," the company said in a statement. "All pathogen and toxicology results have come back negative so far, but we're continuing to do extensive testing so we can get to the bottom of this. Everyone who has been affected deserves an answer, and we are committed to making this right."
Last week, the company posted an update on its website saying that it had received approximately 470 reports of illness or adverse reactions, and that approximately 28,000 units of the recalled product were distributed to customers in the United States from April 28 to June 17.
Daily Harvest's founder and CEO Rachel Drori said in an update Monday that the company is "working 24 hours a day, seven days a week" to determine the root cause behind the health issues. She said it is also cooperating with a probe from the US Food and Drug Administration. "I recognize this is so frustrating. I am incredibly frustrated," Drori wrote. "We'll continue to share more information as it becomes available. You can expect to hear from us as soon as we know more."
The FDA did not immediately respond to CNN Business' request for comment Thursday. Last week, the agency said that it couldn't confirm or deny if an investigation was ongoing that wasn't already listed on its website. It added, however, that when specific consumer guidance can be developed, the FDA and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will publish outbreak advisories communicating that guidance to the public.
Daily Harvest was launched in 2016 and gained internet prominence after enlisting a slew of social media influencers to assist with its marketing. The company said last November that it had secured Series D funding that valued it at over $1 billion.
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