Costco's Food Safety Standards Are Higher Than You'd Think

Since Costco doesn't have an express checkout line, you probably have some time to notice how tidy those stores tend to be. Costco's hundreds of millions of members are so loyal because of quality products, low prices, and cleanliness, per Forbes. That cleanliness starts well before the pallets of products end up in those expansive warehouses. Costco also has rigorous food safety expectations for itself and its suppliers. Adhering to those standards ensures that the food they serve is as safe as possible.

Of course, having protocols in place doesn't always mean they're being followed. According to The Washington Post, 20% of food safety violations go unpunished by government inspectors. Contaminated food or a product recall can cost a corporation $10 million dollars, according to Food Safety Magazine. The financial hit is bad enough but that doesn't include the hit to a business's reputation. To cover those gaps, prudent companies, like Costco, turn to third-party food safety inspections.

Maintaining food safety standards

According to food safety expert Francine L. Shaw, via, "Foodborne illnesses are 100% preventable, but only if all employees follow food safety protocols all the time." Food service establishments can be resistant to new protocols, new technology, and safety training. Kitchens are a hectic place with a lot of moving parts and safety inspection cheats can go overlooked.

For people who've ever worked in food service, you know the panic that a sanitation inspection sets in motion. Drew Talbert's video, "When the Health Department Shows Up," illustrates the game many food establishments play with those inspections. Normal procedures aren't as strict as they should be and there's a scramble to get compliant at the last minute. But not Costco.

It's probably not surprising that a company that goes so far as to check your receipts at the door for mischarges and errors would take food safety so seriously. More than that, the company has a recall alert system, as well as a webpage notifying customers of all recalls.

Costco uses third party inspectors

The discipline it takes to keep Costco's affordable hot dog combo price from changing carries through to the food court safety protocols. According to FoodSafety Magazine, Costco's commitment to food safety comes from the top. They pay for thousands of third-party audits every year to go over and above the typical government inspections. That keeps Costco employees on their toes.

Mental Floss explains the rigors Costco employees undergo as they sling pizza and smoothies to customers. Aprons cannot leave the food prep area. If an employee leaves the kitchen with an apron, it must be replaced with a new one. Food that lands on the counter next to the register cannot return to the kitchen and must be tossed for fear that it may have been contaminated. Even employees wearing nail polish is frowned upon, as the possibility of chips ending up in the food is too high.

So, as you push your cart of affordable Kirkland Signature goodies past the food court, rest assured that the churro and chicken bake will be pretty safe to eat. Add that to all the other benefits of a Costco membership.