Costco reacts to egg recall

August 24, 2010 4:35:07 AM PDT
A salmonella outbreak linked to hundreds of millions of eggs may be under control as federal investigators say they expect the number of recalled eggs to stop growing. There's no indication the outbreak has spread beyond two Iowa farms. But the fallout is still affecting stores and customers.

While Chicago's two largest grocery store chains, Jewel and Dominick's, say they are not affected by the recall, the big wholesaler Costco has pulled eggs off its shelves.

All 13 Costco stores in Illinois are asking customers to return eggs packaged from Hillandale Farms.

While the retail giant calls its involvement minor, the recall affects 23 Midwestern Costco stores, including all in the Chicago area.

"Every consumer that purchased them got a telephone call - actually just as it was being announced - to return their eggs for a full refund so those consumers already been notified," said Craig Wilson, Costco spokesperson.

Costco called 233,000 people who bought Hillandale Farms eggs from April 9 to August 19. The cartons pulled from the shelves are a 7 and ½ dozen food service pack and a 2 18-count package of eggs.

So far, Costco has not had any reports of customers becoming sick with salmonella poisoning.

"We haven't had a reported illness, though that certainly doesn't mean there hasn't been any, but we haven't had a report as of yet," said Wilson.

The nationwide egg recall has grown to include nearly 500 million eggs. So far, nearly 2,000 people have reportedly gotten sick from tainted eggs. While the initial outbreak is traced back to contaminated custard tarts at a northern California high school in May, it took months months for the Food and Drug Administration's food detectives to zero in on two Iowa farms - Hillandale and Wright County Egg.

"They send inspectors out to find the contaminated food. That can often take days, weeks, even months," said William Hubbard, former FDA associate commissioner.

Meantime in Chicago some Costco customers refuse to let the egg scare bother them.

"I'm an egg eater. I love eggs and I eat them every day," said Daniela Schnebly.

Costco customers can eat their eggs as long as they were not packaged from Hillandale Farms and bought during that four-month period.

The other farm, Wright Egg, has been called by the Iowa Supreme Court a repeat violator for the egg producer's history of health, safety and immigration violations. In this case, Wright Egg is cooperating with the FDA.


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