E. coli O157 sickens 19 with link to Costco

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

14 of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco
14 of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco

Related tags E. coli Escherichia coli Foodborne illness

US agencies are investigating 19 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) infections linked to rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said illnesses had been reported from seven states.

Five ill people have been hospitalized and two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

Costco told public health officials on November 20 that it had removed rotisserie chicken salad from all stores in the US and stopped further production until further notice.

Fourteen (88%) of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco.

This product has a typical shelf life of three days and is labeled "Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken" with item number 37719.

Taylor Farms Pacific of Tracy, California is recalling celery products​ because they may contain E. coli O157:H7.

A Celery and Onion Diced Blend which tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 in a sample taken by the Montana Department of Health has been linked to this outbreak.

'Another in growing list of retailers'

Shaun Bossons, SVP global sales at private label PLM experts Trace One, said Costco is another in the growing list of retailers affected by E. coli outbreaks in recent years, showing such food scares are an inevitability in the global supply chain.

“As Costco is showing, with such large-scale food safety scares, the initial challenge is limiting the risk to consumers: which means getting the affected products off shop shelves as quickly as possible,” ​he said.

“This demands that all parties know what ingredients, and so products, have been affected; what retail outlets they have been sold in; and can facilitate a nationwide recall in hours rather than days.”

Bossons said retailers and manufacturers need to show they have done everything in their power to prevent the contaminated goods from affecting customers.

“They can’t prevent them from happening, but they can be better prepared to deal with product recalls from these crises,” ​he said.

“Digging through paper based records of lengthy product specifications will waste time and resources and even put customers at risk. All parties need instant access to all product information wherever they are.

“After that restoring consumer trust is a slow and careful process, achieved by meeting ongoing demands for more information, and being as transparent as possible. The key is collaboration between retailers and manufacturers.”

The majority of illnesses have been reported from states in the western US. The number of ill people from each state is: California (1), Colorado (4), Missouri (1), Montana (6), Utah (5), Virginia (1), and Washington (1).

Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates from October 6 to November 3.

Ill people range in age from five years to 84 and 57% are female.

Illnesses after November 10 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, said CDC.   

  • This article was updated on 27 November to include the Taylor Farms recall 

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