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Friday, August 19, 2022

‘I’ve never experienced pain like that’: Influencers recount unpleasant experiences with Daily Harvest crumbs, company recall handling erupts

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Direct-to-consumer brands have long used networks of online influencers to promote their products. Now, some influencers, who say they’re sick, say the company’s lackluster handling of the crisis is placing a new responsibility on the influencer community to warn the public.

It also shows how quickly the downfall can come when you gather demographics with such broad internet reach.

“That’s what built them into a multi-billion dollar company, all of these influencers did the marketing for them,” he added. “At this point, influencers are warning the public that you could be hospitalized if you ingest this product.”

After consuming the product, Silverstein said: “I’ve never experienced pain like this – this is the first time I’ve felt helpless.”

In response to CNN Business’ multiple requests for comment, Daily Harvest submitted the latest update the company posted on its website regarding the voluntary recall.

“We want to make sure you have the most up-to-date information about our voluntary recall of French Lentils + Leeks. We are taking this matter very seriously and doing everything we can to resolve it. Your health and well-being is our top priority,” the blog post said, adding that it has reached out to affected customers and is taking some steps to investigate. reason.

“We’re working with a team of experts to help us get to the bottom of this — including microbiologists, toxin and pathogen experts, and allergists.” The statement from Daily Harvest adds. “All pathogen and toxicology results have been negative so far, but we are continuing with extensive testing and will keep you updated.”

Daily Harvest French Lentil + Leek meal photo from their website.  Daily Harvest issued a voluntary recall on Sunday for a lentil product, following customer reports of gastrointestinal problems associated with the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles meal .
In one blog post updated Thursday night, the company said it had received about 470 reports of illness or adverse reactions, and that the investigation into the root cause was continuing. It added that about 28,000 units of the recalled product were distributed in the US between April 28 and June 17.

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

Launched in 2016, Daily Harvest’s rise as a household name is largely linked to its aggressive social media campaigns. The company has received many celebrity advocates, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams (representing Paltrow and Williams did not immediately respond to CNN Business’s request for comment).

Food delivery company announced last November that it secured Daily Harvest worth of Series D capital of more than $1 billion.

Influencers follow a unified source for mysterious symptoms

Silverstein said he spent time in an urgent care center, where doctors tried to figure out the problem. He tested negative for all forms of hepatitis, initially suspected, and performed a series of blood tests that ultimately showed liver enzyme levels off the charts. He said that levels of key liver enzymes were up to twelve times higher than normal.

He spent weeks not knowing the cause of the mysterious illness, until he said that his wife saw a post from influencer Luke Wesley Pearson, a content creator from Portland. Pearson reported shockingly similar symptoms, he said, and the two realized they had received these debris from the company before they hit the mass market.

Pearson told CNN Business he underwent an emergency surgery on June 12 to remove his gallbladder after experiencing gastrointestinal problems after eating the debris.

Various frozen healthy meal items (but not the crumbs included in the recall) can be seen inside the Daily Harvest frozen food container, Lafayette, California, October 14, 2021. ( Photo by Gado / Getty Images)

Pearson said he tried crumpling lentils twice, both times leading to severe stomach pain. However, it was the second attempt that brought him to the ER. After symptoms that included “severe” stomach pain, fever, chills, itchy hands and feet, and jaundice, Pearson underwent testing which showed – like Silverstein – increased liver enzymes, as well as bilirubin high. In the end, the doctors decided to remove Pearson’s gallbladder.

For Pearson, it was only after seeing a viral TikTok by Abby Silverman that he realized that the problems could be related to the food he ate right before his problems started. 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 a Daily Harvest product. The same lentils, she said, landed her in the emergency room, twice, with alarmingly high levels of liver enzymes. While she suspected it could be from debris, she said she officially connected her medical crisis to lentils after an email from Daily Harvest on June 19 reiterated the dish’s loss. took her to a Reddit thread about scores of others detailing similar symptoms. Silverman’s attorney, Mark Apostolos, confirmed to CNN Business in a statement that medical records document her illness and symptoms.

“It’s interesting because I’ve seen so many people on social media over the years try Daily Harvest, which is why I said yes to the PR package,” Silverman told CNN Business.

“This whole health situation has caused so much anxiety,” said Silverman, who hired an Apostolos attorney to deal with the fire. “Obviously I wasn’t expecting this. I made the video that I did because I felt like they weren’t doing enough to let people know what was going on – I think people might still have this in their freezer. surname.”

Apostolos said in a statement: “We are investigating and evaluating all legal remedies against Abby, who became ill after consuming the product that was mailed to her.

Another customer who had her gallbladder removed was Candice Smith, who told CNN Business she initially thought she was having a heart attack after taking the product. “It was the worst night of my life,” Smith, CEO of the French Press Public Relations Department in Raleigh, said during the night she rushed to the hospital – where she said she had been. again for four days to undergo tests for hepatomegaly and elevation. Liver enzymes. Her gallbladder was removed on June 19.

The company declined to comment on allegations that customers had undergone gallbladder surgery related to its products. All of those who spoke to CNN Business said the doctors were initially confused by their symptoms.

Smith said she had no related pre-existing medical conditions prior to her arrival at the hospital. “I’m trying to be healthy,” Smith said. “I’m plant-based, I’m trying to do all the right things.” “What am I doing here? Why am I here? Why am I experiencing this level of pain in my life?”

The company’s response is considered tactless

Caroline Sweet, a freelance actress and writer in Los Angeles, said she was in the emergency room after a CT scan following days of “absolute pain” when she received an email on June 17. from Daily Harvest informed her. to dispose of the debris and give her a $10 store credit. (The company said in a blog post that all consumers have been given credit for the recalled product.)

“It was like a very big event,” Sweet said of the email. “The fact that they just handled it so poorly feels like a big slap in the face.”

Sarah Schacht, a consultant and real estate manager in Seattle, said she similarly became “sick” after consuming a product she says she was initially attracted to because of organic marketing. muscle and towards its health. “All the people on the internet have been served Daily Harvest ads, haven’t they?” she speaks.

Schacht spoke out about Twitter about urging people to take samples to their local health department or Food and Drug Administration office.

Silverstein, meanwhile, said he was deeply dismayed by the Instagram post Daily Harvest used to warn customers about the recall. The post published on June 19 simply used an earlier promotional photo of the crash – and directed people to click a link for an “important message”, directing them to an blog post about the voluntary recall. At a glance, Silverstein said most people would assume the post was promoting a product. Daily Harvest has since removed the post he referenced from their Instagram, which it deemed insensitive.

Silicon Valley braces for the good times to end

The FDA told CNN Business in a statement that they cannot confirm or deny if an investigation is ongoing that is not listed on their website. “However, the FDA takes reports seriously that food may be adulterated that could also cause illness or injury,” an FDA spokesperson said in a statement.

The agency added that when it is possible to develop specific guidance for consumers, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will publish epidemic recommendations that communicate that guidance to the public. .

“I’m furious that we’re all being left in the dark with no answers,” Pearson said. “I know that accidents happen all the time in the food industry and I’ve only seen other companies that are completely transparent, speak up and communicate clearly and clearly about what’s going on and what’s going on. next steps and what they’ve discovered so far.”

Silverstein added that he feels that some cause has fallen on influencers to warn their followers. While the company emailed customers and posted a statement on its website, he said it should do more to make it known on social media.

Although he and his wife have been working with Daily Harvest for about five years now and haven’t had any problems in the past, he says they have no choice but to “sever their relationship.” me with them.”

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I am passionate about journalism and using new technology to spread news. I am also interested in politics and economics, and I am always looking for ways to make a difference in the world. I am the CEO of Janaseva News, and I am 24 years old.

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