Costco is a place the masses tend to love. But really, it should be a hypochondriac’s worst nightmare. There are, in fact, multiple factors that can make a trip to Costco more of a brush with death than your run-of-the-mill grocery run.
Having trouble believing us? Here are 15 ways a trip to Costco is detrimental to your health (No. 9 involves a 65-ton recall of chicken!).
1. Chemicals you can buy
There is a wide range of products that line Costco’s shelves. That, unfortunately, includes deadly household products. A report from November 2016 revealed that, while many retailers are moving away from toxic chemicals, Costco isn’t one of them. In fact, on a large grading scale, Costco was given an “F.”
Next: Blinded by the light.
2. Fluorescent lights
Costco has a plethora of light bulbs to choose from, from LEDs to ceiling fixtures and more. But it’s the fluorescent fixtures on their ceilings that you should be aware of.
As Livestrong.com explains, overexposure to fluorescent lighting is bad for your ocular health. Heavy exposure to fluorescent bulbs causes eye strain and fatigue, which can lead to headaches. In the most severe cases, overexposure to fluorescent lighting has reportedly been linked to UV-ray related eye diseases.
Next: Bulk products equal more weight.
3. Heavy materials
Pretty much everything at Costco can be bought in bulk. And since most of us don’t have our own personal forklift, we end up lugging more weight around than we can probably handle. This can cause severe muscle strain, perhaps even a muscle tear if you aren’t careful. Lifting heavy materials into your cart can even go beyond your muscles to result in a herniated disc.
Next: Muscle strains may just be the beginning.
4. Plus, muscle strain has some unexpected side effects
If you are regularly making Costco runs and hurting your muscles like this, you could be at risk of developing rhabdomyolysis. WebMD explains that this is when proteins are released into your blood stream due to the breakdown of your muscles. The process is damaging to your kidneys, so much so that it can cause kidney failure — or even death.
Next: Sometimes waiting is the hardest part.
5. Long lines affect your mental state
Nobody likes standing in long lines. But that’s just because nobody likes being bored, right? On the contrary, waiting in line can actually be hazardous to your health. As Psychology Today summarizes, the irritation that develops from waiting in long lines at check-out leads to physiological stress. This, in turn, raises your heart rate and blood pressure. (Think about how often you stand in long lines at Costco. That can add up to long-term blood pressure problems.)
Next: A violation for chemicals in the environment.
6. Chemicals in the environment
The large retailer was in hot water a few years back for its link to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA tells us that Costco violated the federal Clean Air Act by not replacing leaks of a powerful ozone-harming refrigerant called R-22, which is a reported 1,700 times more harmful to the environment than CO2. Costco committed this violation between 2004 and 2007, and has since had to pay a large fine in addition to regulating its refrigerant management system better.
Next: This could wreck your body overtime.
7. Lines also wreck your body
Additionally, standing on that hard concrete for too long isn’t good for your lower limbs or back. Prolonged standing can result in leg muscle cramps and lower back pain. Plus, the aggravation of waiting in line affects your posture, and can put unnecessary pressure on various parts of your spine that can result in long-term pain.
Next: Food safety (not quite) at its finest.
8. Food storage
Sure, it probably isn’t easy to keep a gigantic warehouse like Costco in perfect and pristine condition all the time. But if there’s one thing that really should be monitored to perfection, it’s the temperature of their facilities and how their food is being stored. A Dateline NBC report from 2006 revealed that a common infraction made among Costco stores is that their temperature isn’t well regulated. Which is bad, when you consider all the food they have in the vicinity.
Next: Not always natural, not always fresh.
9. Food suppliers
Heck, Costco has even gotten into hot water just for carrying certain products. In early 2017, the store had to issue a massive recall of Foster Farms chicken patties. The recall of about 65 tons of chicken came after consumers complained about finding pieces of plastic material in their meat. While it was deemed a “low” health risk, no sane person wants to add plastic to their diet any time soon.
Next: The skinny on bulk.
10. Bulk food hurts your diet
As previously mentioned, shopping at Costco is appealing to many people because you can buy things in bulk. This might seem like a good idea when it comes to food, because it allows you to stock up in one full swoop. But this also means that you are loading up on processed foods that are packed with heart-stopping sodium and other unhealthy entities. Even though Costco has “clean eating” options, you can get most of these foods from other stores, for much lower prices.
Next: The head and the wallet.
11. It also hurts your head
As we previously mentioned, you can buy many of Costco’s products at other stores for lower prices. But the appeal of buying in bulk always draws us in — and makes us spend more money than we probably want to. Making regular over-the-top Costco runs can lead to financial stress, which can manifest into anxiety and depression.
Next: The crowds …
12. Crowds, all the time
Rarely is there not a crowd at Costco. Even if you’re able to shop there on a weekday morning, there is going to be slow-moving carts in most aisles and check-out lines to wait in. The aggravation caused by constantly being in crowds can manifest into anxiety and put you in a bad mood before you even set foot in a store. In more severe cases, social anxiety can develop into a fear of crowds or even panic attacks.
Next: Your ears never really get a rest.
13. Constant noise
There aren’t many places where you can go and completely escape noise. That being said, regularly exposing yourself to high levels of constant sound can wreck your health. Costco is of course a hub for sound, with its noisy forklifts and bustling food court, among other things. This over-exposure to unwanted sound can aid in the deterioration of your hearing.
Next: Free isn’t always good.
14. Those oh-so-tasty samples
There is no denying that the food samples at Costco are one of the reasons so many people venture into their food section. But all those nibbles are doing your health a great disservice. The majority of those foods are unhealthy and are contributing to unnecessary snacking. (And that’s even before you go to the food court for a hot dog.) It’s no wonder superstores such as Costco have been linked to the country’s terrifying obesity epidemic.
Next: Not every encounter is going to be pleasant.
15. Employee interaction
For all the flack we have given Costco, there is one positive that seems to be constant: They treat their employees well. That being said, that doesn’t guarantee that Costco employees are going to be any nicer than workers at any other retail job. You are still open to interaction with rude employees — and such interactions are great triggers for stress hormones in the body.