If you've purchased fresh produce from Costco in the past week, you might want to check your fridge as soon as possible. One of Costco's suppliers just issued a recall for a popular fall vegetable sold in several states.
In a notice sent out to Costco members late last week, food and beverage manufacturer Safeway Fresh Foods announced a voluntary recall for its pre-cut Organic Butternut Squash. The reason? Safeway's lab discovered E. coli O45—a specific strain of the bacteria—in one product sample during routine testing.
On the positive side, the recall shouldn't affect Costco customers nationwide. The Safeway notice specified that the potentially contaminated squash was only sold in Washington D.C., Maryland (Gaithersburg, Frederick, Columbia, Wheaton, and Owings Mills), Pennsylvania (Robinson and Homestead), and Virginia (Fairfax, Sterling, Pentagon City, Leesburg, and Charlottesville).
The recall also only applies to packages of the butternut squash with the 9/19/2023 date code. Customers who purchased the item can find the date code on the label on top of the clear plastic box the squash comes in.
E. coli O45 is a type of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which can cause illness in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of STEC infection can vary by the person, but they often include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea (which may be bloody). People typically start to feel sick three to four days after consuming something contaminated with the bacteria, per the CDC.
Safeway warned customers who still have packages with the affected date code to refrain from consuming the squash. Members can return the item to their local Costco for a full refund. Additionally, Safeway directed customers with any questions or concerns to give them a call at (856) 692-7200.
The butternut squash recall announcement comes a little more than a week after another popular Costco product was recalled—but for a very different reason. Food manufacturer Kettle Cuisine alerted Costco members on Sept. 9 that it was recalling Kirkland Signature Chicken Tortilla Soup because they discovered gluten in the product. The product is labeled as "gluten free," so the undeclared presence of gluten can pose a risk to people with allergies or sensitivities.
Luckily, the impacted products were only distributed to Costco locations in the Northwest and San Francisco Bay Area. The recall applies to soup containers with the lot number 1394066 and the "Use By" date of Nov. 23, 2023.
Costco isn't the only major retailer that has been facing issues with contaminated food products lately. Trader Joe's recalled six items in a span of about 5 weeks over the summer due to the potential presence of rocks, insects, metal, and undeclared milk.