The Latest On The Daily Harvest Lentils Recall That Left Many Consumers With Mystery Illness

Plant-based meal delivery service Daily Harvest got hit with its first lawsuit on Monday after an Oklahoma woman had to have her gallbladder removed after eating Daily Harvest's French Lentil + Leek Crumbles (via PR Newswire). Attorneys for the woman said that almost 100 more people have sought legal help for having similar gastrointestinal symptoms.

Daily Harvest says it's working closely with the Food and Drug Administration, state agencies, and various labs to test its products. So far, testing of any food-borne pathogens has come back negative. The vegan-based company said it began receiving reports on June 19 about customers having gastrointestinal issues after eating the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. On June 23, Daily Harvest recalled 28,000 products sent out between April 28 and June 17. It has received 470 complaints.

Even though the Oklahoma woman who filed the lawsuit had liver and gallbladder dysfunction, scientists and medical professionals say her symptoms aren't typical for a food-borne illness (per NBC News). Some speculate that the symptoms are indicative of aflatoxin exposure, even though Daily Harvest says their products tested negative for these toxins.

What might be causing these symptoms?

Although eating lentils can benefit your health, it's important to soak and cook them before eating. According to MedicineNet, lentils can cause gastrointestinal problems if they aren't cooked properly. About 20% of all cases of food poisoning are attributed to raw legumes. The lectins in lentils can pose food allergy issues or problems with nutrient absorption. These lectins break down when heated. Lentils also have antinutrients and phytates, which also block our bodies from soaking up proteins, amino acids, and minerals.

According to the American Phytopathological Society, more than 300 cases of aflatoxin poisoning were found in Kenya from contaminated corn. More than 75 dogs in the United States died in 2005 after eating dog food contaminated with aflatoxins. According to a 2017 study in Frontiers in Microbiology, aflatoxins grow on certain fungi that infect cereal crops such as wheat, corn, and peanuts. Aflatoxins affect the liver and can cause vomiting or abdominal pain. Cooking foods contaminated with aflatoxins can't destroy them, but heat can reduce their levels. They decompose at high temperatures over 250 degrees.

While it's uncertain whether or not the lentils caused the problem, medical experts are working to get to the bottom of it. Daily Harvest says they will keep the public posted with any new information.