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Costco’s Chicken Troubles Finally Over

It hasn’t been a great year for the food service industry in terms of bacterial outbreaks, but at least Costco gets to end the year with some good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC issued a final notice Tuesday (Dec. 22) in which the agency declared the outbreak of Escherichia coli bacteria in Costco chicken salad more than likely over. The last person to fall ill from eating the retailer’s chicken salad did so on Nov. 3, and no new cases have developed since that date.

While the CDC performed multiple investigations to try to identify the source of the outbreak or the ingredients that may have led to E. coli contamination, it was unable to find a credible culprit. Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., the supplier of the celery and onion blend used in Costco’s chicken salad, issued a voluntarily recall for the mix on Nov. 26, though no evidence was found directly linking the product to the E. coli outbreak.

However, as one E. coli scare ends, another begins. Newsweek reported that Chipotle — fresh (or lack thereof) off the revelation of a serious norovirus outbreak in Boston — is now dealing with five new sickened customers from an E. coli contamination in Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota. These unfortunate diners join about 50 others who have fallen ill after eating at the Mexican food chain sometime in November, 20 of whom required hospitalization.

“The safety of our customers and the integrity of our food supply have always been our highest priorities,” Chipotle said in a statement. “We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation and will continue to cooperate with health authorities as they look to conclude their investigation.”

As dozens of former Chipotle diners try to get better for Christmas dinner, it might be worth a second look at the burrito bowls and Costco chicken salad that somebody brought to the potluck.

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