Revive Superfoods smoothies caused illness, lawsuit claims

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Two New York State residents claim the mango and pineapple smoothies they drank from Revive Superfoods frozen food delivery service caused serious illness and led to hospital stays, according to separate lawsuits filed Monday against the company. Among the smoothie’s ingredients was tara protein, an additive that appears similar or related to tara flour that vegan frozen food service Daily Harvest has identified as the cause of illness in hundreds of its customers. Daily Harvest, which is also facing legal action, issued a recall of its French lentil and leek crumbs, which contain tara flour, and the FDA is investigating the outbreak.

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Nadia Eletribi, who said she received the smoothies as a gift from a friend after having a baby, says she was hospitalized three times after suffering from severe stomach pains, high fever and other symptoms. Daniel Cohl, who claims to have experienced chest and abdominal pain and nausea, spent three days in the hospital, according to his file. Both seek damages to be determined at trial, according to the filing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The Canada-based company, which markets its bowls, smoothies and soups as a convenient way for consumers to access nutritious food, sold food that was ‘defective and unreasonably unsafe’ and ‘contaminated with a substance harmful to human health “, according to the lawsuits. .

Revive did not respond to emails seeking comment, and as of Monday afternoon it had not issued any public communication about it. It no longer sells the Mango Pineapple Smoothies, according to its website.

After the Daily Harvest outbreak began to garner attention last month, Revive pulled its Mango Pineapple Smoothie, which appears to be its only product containing tara. On Reddit and social media, people alleged that they were hospitalized with pain and nausea and later diagnosed with serious liver and gall bladder problems after consuming the fruit drink.

Bill Marler, the food safety attorney representing people claiming to have been sickened by the two companies’ products and who filed the lawsuits on Monday, says he has around 300 customers with complaints against Daily Harvest and more than two dozen for Revive.

The ingredient in question is derived from the seeds of the tara tree, native to South America. The Daily Harvest crumble simply listed “tara” as an ingredient on its label, but later described it as “tara flour”. Revive called its smoothie additive “tara protein.”

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The FDA did not respond to the Washington Post’s specific question about whether it was investigating the alleged outbreak of Revive in addition to that of Daily Harvest. “Generally, during ongoing outbreak or adverse event investigations, the FDA only names ingredients or ingredient suppliers when there is sufficient evidence linking that ingredient to disease or injury. “, an FDA spokesperson said in a statement. The statement noted that the agency is testing samples of several ingredients and warned that any investigation could rule out an ingredient as a source of illness.

“Sharing preliminary investigation information may mislead consumers into believing that a specific ingredient was the cause of an illness or outbreak when in fact it was later ruled out. that it was not related to an adverse event,” the statement said.

Michael Hansen, senior food scientist at Consumer Reports, said it was unclear how similar tara flour and tara protein are or if they are the same ingredient under different names. But what’s clear, Hansen said, is that food regulators haven’t determined whether tara products are safe to eat. “It doesn’t appear that anyone has looked into this,” he said. Consumer Reports last week advised people to avoid tara flour until we know more.

It doesn’t appear to have gone through the FDA, or the agency’s food additive approval process, or a system in which companies certify that an ingredient is “generally recognized as safe,” he said. he noted. And little is known about the category. “It hasn’t been widely used in the food system in the United States,” he said. And tara does not appear to be widely consumed in its native South America, where it is commonly used for leather tanning or for medicinal purposes. Tara could appeal to Western consumers as a native, plant-based protein source, Hansen said. “But it raises questions – here’s this plant, but they’re not using it for food – maybe there’s a reason for that.”

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