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Costco's E. Coli Chicken Salad Recall Expands

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Dec 02, 2015

A recall stemming from an E. coli scare in Costco's chicken salad is now spanning more than a dozen states and includes products sold at major grocery chains, including Walmart, Safeway and Albertsons. The recall was actually traced back to a mixture of diced celery and onion in the chicken salad.

The product sickened 19 people across seven states. This strain of E. Coli can cause an illness that could develop into a form of kidney failure, the FDA notes. Provided by California-based wholesaler Taylor Farms Pacific Inc., the celery and onion mixture has also been recalled, reports the Associated Press.

While Costco immediately pulled the chicken salad from shelves, Taylor Farms then recalled a host of other products containing the celery mix from several other stores across the country. The  Food and Drug Administration released an official list of affected stores that includes 7-Eleven, Safeway, Walmart, Sam's Club, Target, and Starbucks, among others. The FDA expanded the recall of food products on Dec. 1 to include 155,000 items such as salad kits, vegetable trays and other prepared foods. Potentially contaminated items also include wraps, sandwiches, and many types of prepared salads.

Nineteen people have confirmed becoming ill after consuming the infected vegetable mix, and there will likely be more coming forward in the next several weeks. The products were mainly distributed in Western states, but stores in states including Georgia, Arkansas, Nebraska and Hawaii are also affected. The recall last week doesn't affect the New York and New Jersey areas.

The incubation period is three to seven days from the time of exposure. The spread of foodborne illness takes time to track, especially when it's happening in multiple states, says Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. The CDC has identified a DNA fingerprint of the E. coli strain connecting all 19 patients. As health departments get more reports of foodborne illness, additional people will be checked for the fingerprint and the case count will likely rise, Tauxe says.

The CDC said the illness reports began on Oct. 6 and involved people from age 5 to 84.