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Butternut squash sold at Costco stores recalled because of E. coli contamination

Costco shoppers have been notified about contaminated fresh cut butternut squash that has been recalled because of possible contamination with E. coli.

New Jersey-based food manufacturer Safeway Fresh Foods of Vineland, NJ, sent a letter to members, shared by Costco on the recalls page, who may have bought the affected product — 2-pound plastic clam shell containers of pre-cut organic butternut squash — from Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia Costco locations.

The wholesaler announced that impacted items bear the number #20522 above the barcode, and were purchased between Sept. 7 and Sept. 15, 2023.

The contamination was found during routine testing by the producer’s lab.

“Only butternut squash with the 09/19/2023 date code is affected by this recall. If you have any product with this date code remaining, do not consume. Please return the item to your local Costco for a full refund,” said Howard Willis, Safeway Fresh Foods director of food safety.

About E. coli infections

Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated squash and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. 

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients. 

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

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