Costco’s (NASDAQ:COST) retail drama continues, and it’s thanks to the same three Foster Farms plants in Central California that still remain open. It was just last Saturday that we learned Costco was pulling nearly 40,000 pounds of rotisserie chicken products from its shelves at a location in San Francisco due to their link with a salmonella outbreak, and now, less than one week later, The LA Times reports that Costco is extending that recall.
The affected store is located at 1600 El Camino Real, and it recalled Kirkland Signature Foster Farms chicken products sold between September 11 and September 23 last week when the chicken was connected to the salmonella that has now poisoned at least 317 people nationwide. The three Foster Farms plants responsible for the affected chicken were nearly shut down upon the recall, but the USDA allowed them to remain open as long as they made necessary improvements.
Unfortunately, the problems for those plants did not end there, because Costco announced Thursday that it is now also recalling 13,455 units of Kirkland Signature Foster Farms rotisserie chickens and 638 total units of Kirkland Farm rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters, and rotisserie chicken salad purchased between September 24 and October 15.
The USDA maintained in its statement Thursday that no illnesses have been reported in association with the products, but upon further investigation, the agency, along with Costco determined that it was only safe to recall the additional products. Now, the three farms in Central California return back to their position under the microscope.
According to The LA Times, the salmonella outbreak linked to those farms features strains of salmonella that are antibiotic resistant, explaining why double the rate of patients have been sent to hospitals compared to a normal outbreak.
Costco has been confused by its products’ link to the outbreak because the chickens are routinely cooked to 180 degrees Fahrenheit — higher than the 165 degrees necessary to kill salmonella bacteria — but the wholesale retailer continues to take precautionary measures as the USDA explains, “At this time, it appears that the problem may be the result of cross-contamination after the cooking process in the preparation area.”
Many consumers advocates are also now calling for the complete shutdown of the three California plants, along with a full recall of their poultry products at Costco.
But The LA Times reports that the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has defended its position to leave the plants open, and the remaining poultry on the shelves. Unfortunately, Costco now runs the risk of suffering flattening demand if the advocates cluck loudly enough.