SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At least one Daily Harvest customer attempted to warn CEO Rachel Drori that the company's now recalled product was creating much more than "gastrointestinal discomfort." Hundreds of people have been sickened, hospitalized and in some cases had their gallbladders removed.
41-year-old Luke Tashie is a marathon runner and healthy eater, but from June 8 to June 18, Tashie was hospitalized three times with elevated liver enzymes after eating Daily Harvest "French Lentil +Leek crumbles."
"Some of the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life. It felt like nothing I'd ever experienced before," said Tashie.
According to the FDA which is now investigating, on June 17, Daily Harvest emailed customers who were shipped the affected product and other consumers for whom the company had contact information.
The email stated in part, "A small number of customers have reported gastrointestinal discomfort after consuming our French Lentil + Leek Crumbles."
The email instructed "lentils must be thoroughly cooked" and added, "out of an abundance of caution, please dispose of any French Lentil + Leek Crumbles you have received and do not eat them."
Tashie got the email in his hospital bed at 7:34 p.m.
"I had to read it twice because we had been searching for three weeks to figure out what was going on with me," said Tashie.
He says he connected online with other Daily Harvest customers with similar symptoms. The following morning he reached out to Daily Harvest CEO Rachel Drori over LinkedIn after learning they went to the same business school.
"I thought maybe hearing from somebody like myself could be really helpful in getting the word out," said Tashie.
"I pleaded to her the humanity of like if you're not certain, I'm certain, I'm sitting here in the hospital, I've experienced this, I've gone through torture for three weeks," he continued.
In screen-grabbed conversations Tashie provided to ABC7 News on June 18 he wrote in part, "I wholeheartedly do not believe this has anything to do with cooking lentils... I basically charred mine..." and urged Drori, "This is a major public safety problem."
Drori wrote back, in part, "We are actively investigating and taking this very seriously. As soon as we got wind of a potential issue we asked all customers who have purchased to discard the product."
Tashie responded, explaining his condition was well beyond gastrointestinal discomfort and that he had to talk surgeons out of removing his gallbladder.
Drori wrote back in part, "We will be in touch with additional questions and as we learn more."
Tashie asked if the FDA had been informed?
Drori didn't answer that but thanked him and said she'd pass this to the investigation team asap.
"I'll go to the end of the earth to save one person from going through what I've gone through. I wanted Daily Harvest to do the same," said Tashie.
Due to the ongoing investigation, the FDA would not tell ABC7 News if or when Daily Harvest contacted the FDA.
Daily Harvest tells ABC7 News it enacted its voluntary recall on June 17th when it sent out its initial email to customers, but Tashie worried about the Daily Harvest customers who didn't check their email or spouses and children who weren't the main account holders and prepared and ate the product not knowing about the recall.
On June 19, Tashie messaged Drori on LinkedIn again, "I am pleading for you to PLEASE let medical professionals know what is going on. Please let the news outlets know..."
That afternoon the company posted about the issue on its website.
It wasn't until June 23, six days after its voluntary recall in the form of an email to customers that Daily Harvest issued a company announcement which was posted publicly on the FDA website for anyone to see.
"Having a food product that makes people sick is one thing. Not doing everything in your power as a human being to address it is a whole other," said Tashie.
In an email posted to the Daily Harvest website Friday, Drori writes despite exhaustive testing over two weeks, Daily Harvest has not identified a possible cause.
She says the company is working with top doctors, microbiologists, toxicologists and three independent labs.
Drori writes, "I assure you, we will not stop until we get to the bottom of this."
On Monday, Drori had posted the company was confident the issue is limited to the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles and does not impact any of their other 100+ menu items.
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