According to a Food and Drug Administration investigation, a Reddit thread in June 2022 with complaints about “extreme stomach pain/sickness from lentil leek crumbles” eventually led to a Daily Harvest recall of products that were later connected to hundreds of illnesses and dozens of hospitalizations.
The single item impacted was Daily Harvest’s French Lentil + Leek Crumbles, but for the dozens of people who encountered them, the effects were more like tidal waves. The FDA has received reports of more than 329 illnesses and 133 hospitalizations, and some social media influencers have posted about their own experiences on Instagram and TikTok. An organ had to be removed, according to vegan lifestyle influencer Luke Wesley Pearson, after he consumed two portions of the Crumbles he received as part of a Daily Harvest marketing campaign. Many victims are currently working with attorneys to bring lawsuits against the business and the product’s manufacturer after other people documented serious gastrointestinal issues and abnormal liver function to the FDA.
Then what is tara four, what might have gone wrong, and is it safe to eat now or in the future? Here is what medical professionals want you to know.
Tara Flour: What Is It?
A genus of flowering plants in the family of legumes is called Tara. South American countries cultivate tara trees, commonly known as Peruvian carob or prickly holdback. According to Donald Schaffner, Ph.D., distinguished professor of food microbiology and extension expert at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, this plant is related to alfalfa, clover, beans, lentils, lupins, peas, peanuts, carob, mesquite, and tamarind.
According to Diana Licalzi, M.S., RD, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Reversing T2D in Boulder, Colorado, tarra is grown for a variety of reasons, including as a food ingredient that is mostly used in products as a gum, which functions as a stabilizer or thickening.
“Like many plants, this one’s legumes can be processed into flour. Tara flour is a recently developed and infrequently used foodstuff “says Schaffner. Although the company Daily Harvest claims that the flour is the source of the issue, the FDA has not validated this.
The North American food supply for tara flour has only been there for about a year, so there isn’t much information available about it, says Roxana Ehsani, M.S., RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Miami and a national media representative for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “We just don’t know very much yet,”
Tara Flour: Is It Safe?
But here’s what we do know: The FDA has designated the tannic acid that is derived from tara seed pods as a “direct food substance affirmed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).” However, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, tara flour may not have gone through the same “GRAS” process to demonstrate its safety.
Although less research appears to have been done on the safety of tara flour, Licalzi notes that research has shown that tara used as gum in foods is safe and nontoxic.
Or, Schaffner says, “Consuming this stuff raw may be potentially dangerous.” “It’s also possible, in my opinion, that the diseases were caused by the usage of the improper species when making the flour in this case, which was created from a related species that isn’t typically utilized for food. These legumes are said to contain a lot of tannin, which may also be harmful.”
Licalzi adds that some people have sensitivities to particular proteins, as is the case for those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity that is not related to celiac disease. These people have difficulty processing gluten, a particular protein present in wheat and other grains that contain gluten.
Licalzi speculates that people who experienced symptoms after consuming a Daily Harvest product containing tara flour may also be sensitive to tara proteins.
The exports we spoke to agreed that it is advisable to stay away from tara flour for the time being until we learn more about it and the reasons why it has made so many people ill.
Any form of prepared meal should have an ingredient label that states “not contains tara flour,” advises Ehsani.
Until we have more information on what specifically caused the illnesses among so many people, I would advise friends and clients to hold off on consuming tara flour, adds Licalzi, given the recent hospitalizations resulting from the Daily Harvest recall.
The possible toxicity of tara flour to humans, the possibility that a toxin was unintentionally combined with the tara flour used in Daily Harvest products, and the possibility that some people may be hypersensitive to tara flour are all unknowns at this time.
Regardless of the reason, Licalzi continues, “The risk is not worth taking,” so make sure to read the label of any food item and, if you go to a restaurant or order from a meal delivery service, inquire as to whether any of their goods include tara flour. As usual, it is advisable to contact the FDA or your state health department if you encounter symptoms that you think might be caused by something you ate.
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