Some Costcos Are Suspending Free Samples as a Coronavirus Precaution

Exterior of a Costco Wholesale store

Exterior of a Costco Wholesale store

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Plus, Darden Restaurants is giving all its hourly employees paid sick leave, and more news to start your day

First non-members were banned from the foodcourt and now this…

We knew the COVID-19 outbreak would require sacrifice, but give us some space, because this is a tough one. News is spreading on Reddit that some Costco locations are suspending the company’s infamous free sample program until further notice. According to USA Today, neither Costco nor Club Demonstration Services, the company that provides in-store marketing for Costco, responded to comment about which locations were suspending the program, but individual stores in Washington, California and Florida all reported no free food samples for the time being.

It’s a reasonable move, given that the CDC says the virus spreads through close contact (like everyone grasping at a tray of mini hot dogs), and that not everyone grabbing samples may have washed their hands immediately before. But between this and Costco’s announcement that only Costco members will be able to eat at the food court—home of the sweet, sweet Chicken Bake—well, it stings. (Encouraging the spread of a virus would sting more.)

And in other news…

  • Darden Restaurants, which runs Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and The Capital Grille, among others, said it would be providing paid sick leave to all hourly workers in response to the coronavirus outbreak. [Bloomberg]
  • Carnival is trying to lure customers heeding the CDC’s advice to “defer” upcoming cruise ship travel with free drinks, which seems irresponsible! [Vice]
  • McDonald’s is going to be selling Big Macs with four patties. [Restaurant Business Online]
  • As shoppers stock up on and/or hoard supplies, food banks are having a hard time providing for those in need. [The Guardian]
  • British cooking show host Simon Rimmer served dal made with ghee to a vegan guest, insisting it was “fine” for his vegan diet. [NY Post]
  • Historian, journalist, and cookbook author Jessica B. Harris has been awarded the 2020 James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award, and nonprofit Zero Foodprint is the 2020 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year. [James Beard Foundation]
  • Last week, Instacart introduced a “no-contact” delivery option. Now, services like Grubhub and Postmates are doing the same. [Today]
  • Milk vodka? Milk vodka. [Modern Farmer]

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