Characterisation of an outbreak of acute liver injury after ingestion of plant-based food supplement

the Drug-induced Liver Injury Network

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: In April 2022, French Lentil and Leek Crumble (FLLC), a new frozen food preparation manufactured by Daily Harvest™ (containing Tara flour) was offered as a natural high-protein meal product. Soon thereafter, widespread anecdotal reports of acute gastrointestinal symptoms with liver injury were reported, leading to its voluntary withdrawal in June 2022, after shipment of 28,000 preparations. Aims: To summarise the clinical and laboratory features of 17 patients with FLLC associated liver injury from the Drug Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN). Methods: Patients with FLLC-associated liver injury were enrolled into a prospective protocol and followed for 6 months. Cases were adjudicated by expert opinion causality assessment with summary statistics for data analysis. Results: Enrolled subjects had a mean age of 41 years, 82% were female with mean BMI of 24 kg/m2. All were Caucasian without underlying liver disease. In most cases, abdominal pain and nausea arose within hours of FLLC ingestion. Mean days from ingestion to identification of liver injury was 3.1 days (±2.8). On enrolment, 53% had jaundice, 47% nausea, 24% fever, 59% abdominal pain, 41% itching and 12% rash. The mean initial serum ALT was 475 U/L (±302), AST 315 U/L (±315), alkaline phosphatase 190 U/L (±76), with a total bilirubin of 2.6 mg/dL (±2). In this study, 63% presented with a hepatocellular pattern of liver injury, 6% cholestatic and 31% mixed as determined by the R value. In addition, 24% of patients were hospitalised, and there were no fatalities or liver transplants. Liver biopsy in one subject revealed acute hepatitis with mild ductular reaction, mild lymphocytic and eosinophilic portal inflammation, mild lobular inflammation, preserved bile ducts and absence of interface hepatitis, steatosis, granulomatous reaction or cholestasis. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed the presence of Tara spinosa, the source of Tara flour. Conclusions: Natural food products are increasingly ubiquitous and may unexpectedly cause significant illness. All clinicians should inquire whether patients are consuming natural food products or herbal supplements and consider them as a potential cause of liver injury.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

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