Costco E. coli recall linked to contaminated celery, expands to more states, other major grocery stores

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday that a recall prompted by contaminated Costco-sold chicken salad now affects products distributed at other national grocery stores including Walmart, Safeway, 7-Eleven and Albertsons. The FDA confirmed that celery from California-based Taylor Farms Pacific was the contaminated item in the prepared food, Q 13 Fox reported.

As of Wednesday, the celery recall has spanned more than a dozen U.S. states and impacts 155,000 items like salad kits, vegetable trays and other packaged foods, according to the FDA. More than 45,000 holiday turkey sandwiches sold at Starbucks and distributed in California may also be at risk for E. coli contamination.

Although mainly distributed in western states, the potentially contaminated products were also sold in Georgia, Arkansas, Nebraska and Hawaii.

So far, the contaminated celery has sickened a reported 19 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While E. coli usually isn’t life threatening to healthy individuals, elderly or young people, or those with weakened immune systems who are exposed to the bacteria may be more at risk for serious health problems.

Health officials said last week that the strain of the bacteria that is linked to the outbreak, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, is not connected to the recent outbreak at Chipotle restaurants. The Costco-linked strain is more severe than the strain linked to Chipotle, they said.

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Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who is representing people sickened in the Chipotle outbreak, said the problem [AT COSTCO?] appears serious because two people have developed kidney failure. People were hospitalized in the Chipotle outbreak, but no one developed kidney failure.

Marler said the new case shows 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.