Instagram-friendly meal kit service Daily Harvest is facing a firestorm of online backlash over the voluntary recall of one of its products, after a slew of people who consumed it reported becoming ill with mysterious symptoms, including extremely elevated liver enzymes.
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.
“This company was built on the backs of influencers,” said Cory Silverstein, who runs an organic skincare brand with his wife, and told CNN Business he received the product, called French Lentil and Leek Crumbles, as part of a PR package in mid-May.
“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.”
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.”