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This Costco Food Is Showing "Weird" Sprouts, Customers Say

You can't unsee this item's peculiar growth... but is it safe? We found an answer.

There are Costco members who have said they feel like some of the warehouse chain's produce can be a little sketchy sometimes. This weekend, one discovered an eerie case in point when they got home and sliced in, only to find a rather surreal scientific process occurring inside.

On Saturday, Costco Reddit community member u/Cool-Change1234 shared an image, and a rather apropos question, about a purchase they'd reportedly made at Costco: "Tomatoes were sprouted inside…is it okay to eat?"

Good question, for which fellow users had some thoughts. "Wait a bit more and you can skip the lettuce," joked u/Yalado, while u/QMDi exclaimed: "Halloween tomatoes! They're ALIIIIVE!"

U/Mountainman1980 offered, "I've eaten tomatoes like this, but I picked out the stems with a fork."

No word on whether u/Mountainman1980 experienced any kind of reaction. However, it's worth highlighting what another commenter, u/mrbsacamano, shared: "Tomatoes are in the nightshade family, so the leaves, stems and roots are poisonous. I would chuck them, or just plant the whole thing and you'll have tomatoes next year.

Edit: not to alarm you if you've eaten it already, they're mildly poisonous, so a bit wont be terrible, but might upset your stomach. "

Another user shared the biological term for this phenomenon that they'd found after a quick online search. "Have never seen this. Just googled, and there's even a name for this phenomenon. Vivipary."

Indeed, a 2014 post on the University of Connecticut's blog explains that vivipary occurs "when the hormone controlling the seed dormancy is exhausted or runs out, letting the seed grow in the moist environment inside the fruit." The post continues: "This warm, moist environment is perfect for germinating seed to grow. If the tomato were left uncut in the warm conditions, the new plant sprout would eventually poke through skin of the now decomposing tomato."

Carol Quish, the horticulturist and program assistant at UConn's College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources who penned the blog post suggests that from that point, independent tomato plants may grow and that "The tomatoes off of the plant are entirely edible and quite possibly delicious."

On whether the actual sprouts inside the tomato are safe to eat when vivipary appears to have taken place, master gardener Laura Simpson noted last year in Northern California's Press Enterprise: "Although it looks kind of creepy (remember the movie Alien?), the tomato is safe to eat."

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Editor's note: Technical choices in user comments were kept to preserve the original quotation.

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more