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Costco Is Recalling Butternut Squash Due to E. Coli Risk, FDA Warns

The agency says the produce could be contaminated with the harmful bacteria.

Part of what makes a trip to Costco so appealing is the sheer magnitude of what they offer customers. In one stop, you can pick up everything from bulk household items and cleaning supplies to frozen treats and groceries—including fan favorites like the store's rotisserie chickens or house-brand Kirkland products. Most return customers trust the store for its high quality and competitive prices. But now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that Costco is recalling butternut squash due to a potential E. coli contamination risk. Read on to see if what's in your fridge could be affected.

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Costco is recalling packages of Sunnyside Farms butternut squash sold at certain stores.

A top view of diced butternut squash cooking on a baking sheet.
iStock / MarinaZg

On Sept. 25, the FDA announced that Vineland, New Jersey-based Safeway Fresh Foods was recalling its Diced Organic Butternut Squash sold under its Sunnyside Farms brand name. The affected product is packaged in 32-ounce plastic containers with the Costco item number 20522, UPC 040232244124, and a best-by date of 09/19/2023.

The recalled produce was sold between Sept. 7, 2023, and Sept. 15, 2023. The agency's notice clarifies that the items were only distributed to Costco stores in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

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The FDA warns that the produce could be contaminated with E. coli.

Woman Holding Her Stomach
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

According to the recall notice, routine testing conducted by the company came back positive for the presence of Escherichia coli O45, also known as E. coli. The agency warns that the harmful bacteria "causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools" but can also cause severe stomach cramps, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Most people with healthy immune systems usually recover from their symptoms within a week. However, the infection can also become a more serious form of kidney failure known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). This can lead to severe kidney damage or potential death, most often in young children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people who develop it.

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Here's what you should do if you purchased the recalled butternut squash.

April 17, 2020 - Halifax, Canada - Costco Wholesale warehouse store located in the Bayers Lake retail park. Costco is temporarily allowing priority access to their warehouses for Costco members who are healthcare workers and first responders such as police officers, EMTs and firefighters. Healthcare workers (which include all hospital employees with a hospital ID) and first responders who present a Costco membership card and official identification of their role, will be allowed to move to the front of any line to enter the stores during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The recall notice states that there have been no reported illnesses connected to the recalled butternut squash so far. Still, the company warns anyone who may have purchased the item not to consume it.

Customers can also return the recalled butternut squash to their local Costco. Anyone with questions can contact Safeway Fresh Foods by calling the hotline listed on the agency's recall notice on weekdays.

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There have been other major health-related food recalls recently.


This isn't the only time recently a company has pulled a food or beverage product from shelves over health concerns. In an Aug. 1 press release, Frito-Lay announced a "voluntary recall" of 1-ounce and 14.5-ounce bags of Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips. While the affected products were only distributed in Pennsylvania, the snacks still posed a risk because they could "contain undeclared soy and wheat ingredients from spicy sweet chili tortilla chips," the announcement explained.

Later in the month, the FDA announced that Nestlé USA had issued a voluntary recall of 16.5-ounce packages of its Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough "break and bake" bars. The company said that "a small number of consumers" led to the discovery that the product could potentially contain wood fragments.

And on Sept. 19, Kraft Heinz announced it was recalling 83,800 cases of individually wrapped Kraft Singles American processed cheese slices. The company said it decided to pull the products because an issue with a wrapping machine made it possible for "a thin strip of the individual film [to] remain on the slice after the wrapper has been removed" and create "a gagging or choking hazard." At the time of the announcement, six customers had reported the problem had caused them to choke or gag.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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