Costco chicken salad linked to E. coli outbreak

SEATTLE (AP) — Nineteen people in seven states, including Washington and California, have contracted E. coli in an outbreak linked to chicken salad bought at Costco, federal health officials said Tuesday.

People who bought chicken salad at any U.S. Costco store on or before Friday were advised to throw it away, even if no one has gotten sick.

The strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can be life-threatening, but no deaths have been reported in the current outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said five people have been hospitalized and two have developed a type of kidney failure.

Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC and state health officials were investigating and have not yet determined what ingredient in the rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores could be the source of the outbreak.

People have fallen ill in California, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

The outbreak is not related to a recent case involving Chipotle restaurants in which 40 people were sickened.

A phone call to Costco headquarters in Washington state seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who is representing people sickened in the Chipotle outbreak, said the latest outbreak appears serious since two people have developed kidney failure.

Although people were hospitalized in the Chipotle outbreak, none developed kidney failure.

Marler said the new case is a good example of why food safety is so crucial.

“Costco has always been a leader in food safety at retail, it just goes to show you how important controlling your supply chain is,” Marler said.

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