Costco Salad Recall Shows Worrying Trend – How To Stay Safe From Undeclared Allergens

By: David Donovan | Last updated: Jul 16, 2024

A recall has been issued by Costco in 16 states for prepackaged salads containing undeclared ingredients. 

This could be potentially dangerous for those with allergies.

Potential Allergens

Some packages of Costco’s “Grain + Celery Salad” were “inadvertently marked as item #25247 Ancient Grain + Vegetable Salad,” according to a recall notice posted on the company’s website. 

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Costco store located in the Tlalpan borough by Calzada Xochimilco-Mexico Col Ejidos de Huipulco in Mexico City

Wikimedia Commons user Thelmadatter

Almonds and soy may be present in the packaged salad.

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Life-Threatening Reaction

“People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy or almonds run the risk of severe life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product,” according to Costco.

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Shelled almonds (Prunus dulcis) piled on top of each other close up

Wikimedia Commons user Luigi Chiesa

Further they advised customers who are allergic to soy or almonds to return their salads for a refund.

Salad Locations

The incorrectly labeled salads were sold at in 24 Costco locations in 16 states:

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Costco in Hashima, Gifu Prefecture, Japan there are people outside with trolleys and cars

Wikimedia Commons user Renaik

These include California, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Georgia.

Refund Procedure

For a refund, the salads can be returned to the stores from which they were purchased.

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This is what the Costco in Perth looks like during the first morning.

Wikimedia Commons user ZidaneHartono

Customers of Costco can also get in touch with the business by calling 800-774-2678, which is available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Allergen Concerns

It was not clear whether there have been reports of adverse reactions connected with the salads at present.

Costco in Brampton, ON, Canada interior showing food stocked on shelves

Wikimedia Commons user Canmenwalker

Worries about undeclared allergens, frequently brought about by mislabeling, prompt organizations to issue recalls of food items.

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Other Salad Recalls

Customers were informed last month in two separate recalls that Ready Pac “Bistro Grande Southwestern Style” salad bowls sold in California and Nevada might contain fish and wheat. 

Salad in a cardboard bowl with a fork to the left on a wooden surface

Unsplash user Ryan Concepcion

Meanwhile, “Tuscan Salad Bowls” sold at Heinen’s retail locations in Ohio and Illinois might contain pecans, which was the concern with those products.

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Unlisted Ingredients

Most unlisted yet regularly consumed food ingredients might be of little worry to the health of numerous consumers. 

Salad on a plate on a wooden surface

Unsplash user Anna Pelzer

However mislabeling can unintentionally cause the possibly lethal condition of anaphylaxis in those with related allergies.

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There Is A Serious Risk For Consumers

Undeclared ingredients are a major problem because consumers will not know if there are any allergens in the food that they should be aware of before eating.

Almonds and almond milk.

Source: Dhanya Purohit/Unsplash

An allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis, can cause hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, a raised pulse, a closing of the throat, and even cardiac arrest. You should call 911 immediately if you think you are experiencing any of these symptoms after consuming this salad.

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Fatal Concerns

Earlier this year dancer Órla Baxendale, 25, died after she ate Florentine cookies without realizing they contained undeclared peanuts. 

Florentine cookies on a wire tray placed on a tile surface

Unsplash user American Heritage Chocolate

The Connecticut-based supermarket chain Stew Leonard’s issued a recall after the incident.

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“Heartbreaking Tragedy”

“This is a heartbreaking tragedy that should never have happened,” Department of Consumer Protection Connecticut Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli reported in a statement. 

Connecticut Office of the Attorney General with Bryan Cafferelli making a speech at a podium with people behind him

Facebook user Connecticut Office of the Attorney General

“Our condolences go out to the family affected by this incident.”

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DCP Measures

At the time the DCP and Stew Leonard’s took measures to remove all baked items produced by Cookies United which are based in New York.

Bryan Cafferelli shaking hands with a man while at a podium and another man to his other side

Facebook user Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection

This was one out of “an abundance of caution” as per a press release.

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Outside Supplier

According to Director of Public Relations Meghan Bell the cookies were purchased “from an outside supplier, and unfortunately, the supplier changed the recipe and started going from soy nuts to peanuts.”

Roasted Peanuts piled on top of each other close up

Wikipedia user Flyingdream

She went on to say: “Our chief safety officer here at Stew Leonard’s was never notified.”

“We have a very rigorous process that we use as far as labeling. We take labels very seriously, especially peanuts.”

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How To Get In Touch For A Refund

The misplacing of a label can be the difference between a severe allergic reaction and a healthy, nutritious meal. It is not worth taking the risk of consuming these salads if you are allergic to soy or almonds.

Pair of hands using a cell phone.

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For any questions regarding this salad recall, you can contact Costco at 800-774-2678, Monday through Friday from 6am to 6pm Pacific Time. You can also get hold of Costco on the weekend between 8am and 5pm.

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Allergies Are Not Costco's Only Concern

This salad is not the only product that Costco has had to recall. In fact, several items on Costco’s shelves have had to be temporarily withdrawn due to health concerns.

Costco produce shelves.

Source: Marques Thomas/Unsplash

Along with Trader Joe’s, Costco has pulled certain products because of a listeria outbreak, especially for food manufacturer, Rizo Lopez Foods Inc. which provides ready meals and taco kits to the stores.

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More Products Have Been Pulled

On the Costco website, the latest addition to Costco’s list of product recalls included four products coming from the same supplier. The products are the Southwest Chicken Wrap, Chicken Street Taco Kit, Don Pancho Crema Trio Pack, and Don Pancho Cilantro Lime Crema.

Tacos with cilantro.

Source: Jeswin Thomas/Unsplash

Trader Joe’s recalled similar products including Elote Chopped Salad Kits, Enchiladas Verde, Southwest Salads, and Cilantro Salad Dressing. Other retailers such as Albertsons have also been affected.

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A Listeria Outbreak

Rizo Lopez Foods Inc. is a food supplier and distributor that provides larger stores with primarily salad and taco kits.

Rolled tacos covered in guacamole and sour cream.

Source: Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández/Unsplash

These recalls are the latest in a series of listeria cases with the supplier, dating back to 2014, according to the FDA. Rizo Lopez most recently has carried out a voluntary recall with the FDA for many of its products, with its related retailers following shortly after.

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What Is Listeria?

California-based company, Rizo Lopez Foods, specializes in supplying cheese and dairy products. Throughout this year, they have already recalled more than 60 products which are sold nationwide due to the listeria outbreak.

Spilled milk.

Source: Anita Jankovic/Unsplash

Listeria is a rare type of bacteria that can infect any food, but most commonly affects chilled and ready meals such as cured meats, pre-cut salads and sandwiches, and products that use unpasteurized milk.

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The Outbreak Has Taken Lives

The recalls were made after two people died and more than 23 were hospitalized with listeriosis, an illness that can occur when a consumed product is infected with listeria.

An assortment of salads.

Source: Luisa Brimble/Unsplash

The CDC’s investigations of listeria outbreaks in 2017 and 2021 could not trace the infections back to any specific brands. After new cases of listeriosis came to light in December, the same strain of bacteria was found in a Rizo Lopez Foods cheese sample.

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Listeria Is A Life-Threatening Bacteria

By February this year, two people had already passed away from listeriosis. While not usually serious for most people and it goes away by itself, listeriosis can cause serious complications for some people.

Blue cheese.

Source: Tina Witherspoon/Unsplash

Symptoms include a high temperature, aches and pains, chills, feeling sick or diarrhea. Those most vulnerable to serious complications with listeriosis are the pregnant, newborn babies, and people with conditions or going through treatments that weaken the immune system.

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What Does Listeriosis Look Like?

If you are concerned that you or someone else has consumed infected food, here are the symptoms to look out for.

Glasses, a mug, and a box of tissues.

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Symptoms can start with muscle aches and fatigue. More serious cases can cause fever, flu-like symptoms, headaches, a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and seizures. Seek immediate medical attention if you are pregnant as listeriosis can have harmful implication to yourself and your baby.

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What To Do About Recalled Products In Your Home

If you are worried that you have brought home a product with undeclared ingredients or one that could be infected in some way, stay calm.

A person cleaning a desk.

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On top of immediately throwing the product away without consuming it, you can ask the retailer such as Costco for a full refund on recalled products. It is also important to clean any surfaces where the product has touched such as tables, countertops, or containers.

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Food Recalls Are On The Rise

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA recorded a total of 313 food recalls and public health alerts last year.

Supermarket aisle.

Source: Franki Chamaki/Unsplash

Food recalls have been on the rise in the country, with the number of recalls being at their highest since the pandemic. Nearly half of the food recalls were due to undeclared allergens. California retailers sold 44% of last year’s recalled products, a close second to New York.

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How To Stay Safe With Your Food

With food recalls on the rise, what measures can you take to protect your health and that of those around you?

Woman eating salad.

Source: Farhad Ibrahimzade/Unsplash

Stay up to date regarding food recalls from retailers you use, especially for products that you regularly buy. Check the lot codes for foods that have been recalled. Be wary of ready-to-eat meals, particularly unheated deli meats. If any of your products are recalled, throw them away immediately.

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