Interesting reading in Chemical Research in ToxicologyIs Baikiain in Tara Flour a Causative Agent for the Adverse Events Associated with the Recalled Frozen French Lentil & Leek Crumbles Food Product? – A Working Hypothesis

On June 17, 2022, Daily Harvest (New York, NY) issued a voluntary recall of about 28,000 units of their newly launched French Lentil & Leek Crumbles frozen food product (1 serving size, 113 g) due to gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Case counts received by the FDA total 393 adverse illness events and 133 hospitalizations related to the consumption of this product within 39 US states due to complaints of GI, liver, gallbladder, and(or) bile duct problems.

Initial testing of the frozen food product resulted in negative results for common food toxicants, microbial pathogens, mycotoxins, major allergens, heavy metals, pesticides, hepatitis A, and norovirus. Out of the 27 components in the Crumbles, Daily Harvest suspected tara flour was the potential problem since the ingredient was unique to this product (it had never been used in any other product sold by Daily Harvest). Compellingly, similar adverse health events were reported for consumption of the Revive Superfoods (Oakville, ON, Canada) Mango and Pineapple smoothies which also contain tara protein as an ingredient. 

Tara flour is a new plant-based protein ingredient manufactured from the seeds of the South American tree Tara spinosa (Feuillé ex Molina) Britton & Rose (synonym: Caesalpinia spinosa (Molina) Kuntze) which is one of the three accepted species in the genus Tara (Legumino- sae). Tara spinosa is primarily cultivated in Peru (responsible for >80% of the world supply) as a rich source of tannins based on a galloyl quinic acid structure. Tara pods (without seeds) represent approximately 65% (by mass) of the fruit and are rich in hydrolyzable tannins (between 40−60% by mass), which are used mainly for the industrial production of tannins, while the seeds are used as a source of gum. 

In summary, the results of these initial studies support a working hypothesis that the adverse events reported by individuals consuming the Daily Harvest Crumbles product originate from the tara flour ingredient and are due, at least in part, to high levels of nonprotein amino acids (e.g., baikiain). It is further hypothesized that in vivo metabolism of metabolically unstable baikiain results in a toxic metabolite(s) that depletes glutathione and/or is an irreversible enzyme inhibitor (for L- pipecolate oxidase), resulting in adverse events which are dependent on the dose consumed and potentially exacerbated for individuals that have specific genetic predispositions. 

Here is the link to the full article: