Costco Clucks About Poultry, Beef Recalls in California and Canada

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Costco (NASDAQ:COST) locations in both the U.S. and Canada are experiencing issues in their meat and poultry departments, and over the weekend, the problems went from bad to worse.

It began with a Costco wholesale store in San Francisco, California late last week when the retailer recalled nearly 40,000 pounds of its rotisserie chicken products. The food was highlighted as a possible link to the current salmonella outbreak that has now affected more than 300 people in 20 different states, and according to NBC News, the Costco store on El Camino Real was thus forced to pull 8,730 Kirkland Signature Foster Farms rotisserie chickens from its shelves Saturday, along with 313 units of Kirkland Farm rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, and rotisserie chicken salad.

Unfortunately, the recalls didn’t stop there. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also announced the same day that Costco Wholesale Canada was recalling its Kirkland Signature brand Organic Lean Ground Beef on the grounds that it was also possibly linked to the E. coli contamination.

According to Food Safety News, that ground beef was sold at Costco warehouses in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, and although no reported illnessed have been linked to the consumption of the ground beef, consumers were still weary of their Costco meat products over the weekend as they celebrated their Thanksgiving holiday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety has recognized the salmonella poisoning as Salmonella heidelberg, which is rarely found in the United States. Most of the cases of the poisoning have been spotted in California, where 232 people have reported ill, but this now marks the second outbreak of Salmonella heidelberg linked to Foster Farms in less than a year, and the linked Foster Farms poultry plants in Fresno and Livingston, California are now on thin ice.

According to NBC News, the USDA agreed on Thursday that they can keep their facilities open as long as they make the promised fixes, but now more consumers are reported to express weariness over the Foster Farms brand, and the company could face costly repercussions in the future.

The good news for the affected rotisserie chicken, however, is that it is limited to a single store, whereas the beef products are scattered over four locations in Canada. Some of the seven strains of salmonella detected are also drug-resistant, which makes it hard to create effective treatments for patients, and 42 percent of victims have had to be hospitalized.

It is still unclear how the cooked chicken could have led to the reported illnesses because they are routinely cooked to 180 degrees Fahrenheit — higher than the 165 degrees necessary to kill salmonella bacteria — but some cite cross contamination as a possibility, and the retailer is now taking all precautionary measures.

In addition to Costco, The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) already removed Foster Farms raw chicken products from its store shelves earlier last week, and it also removed products from its Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers/City Market, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Smith’s, and QFC stores and warehouses as well.

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