CostCo Rotisserie Chicken Salad Recall Amid E. Coli Food Poisoning Outbreak

A multi-state outbreak of E. coli food poisoning has been linked to Costco chicken salad made from rotisserie chickens, leading to a recall after at least 19 people in seven states fell ill, including at least five hospitalizations. 

The Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad recall was announced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on November 24, after a preliminary investigation into several E. coli infections indicated the Costco’s chicken salad products were most likely the source of the outbreak.

The CDC, FDA, and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), along with several state and local government agencies, opened a foodborne illness outbreak investigation after individuals became ill with a strand of Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli O157:H7.

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The agencies warn that consumers who may have purchased rotisserie chicken salad products from Costco should immediately stop eating them and discard any remaining, due to the increased health risks associated with this particular strand of E. coli.

The government and state agencies began tracking illness reports with similar strands of the E. coli infection through PulseNet and discovered E. coli O157:H7 cases in seven states that have onset ranges from October 6 through November 3, 2015. Epidemiological and traceback investigation have suggested Costco brand rotisserie chicken salad products to be the likely source of the outbreak, but no determination on what ingredient has been made.

According to the CDC as of November 19, the outbreak has sickened at least 19 individuals in California (1), Colorado (4), Missouri (1), Montana (6), Utah (5), Virginia, (1), and Washington (1). Of the 19, five have been hospitalized and two have developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of E. coli poisoning, which may result in kidney failure.

Following the agencies’ discovery, Costco was informed and immediately recalled all Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken marked with item number 37719. The products were sold exclusively at Costco stores across the U.S. The chicken salad products only have a shelf life of three days and have been removed from all store shelves, however consumers are being asked to throw out any remaining even if some has already been eaten.

E. coli is a foodborne bacteria that lives in the intestines of people and animals and can become pathogenic causing severe bowel pain and diarrhea when exposed outside of the human intestinal tract. The bacteria are commonly transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals and infected persons.

Symptoms of E. Coli typically involve mild to severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps, bloody stools, and sometimes minor fevers lasting between five and 10 days. Individuals such as young children or the sick and elderly may be affected more because of a weakened immune system, which could also increase the severity of the illness.

According to the CDC, there are more than 250,000 E. coli infections reported each year and believe that many more go underreported due to the lack of consumer awareness.

The CDC reports the investigation is still ongoing and the agency is continuing to conduct interviews with sickened individuals.

Although 88% reported purchasing or eating rotisserie chicken salad from Costco before becoming ill, more information is being gathered about other exposures within the week before illness onset. For now, Costco has removed all potentially impacted products from its store shelves and has also suspended the production the product until further notice.

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