Read This If You Recently Bought Black Beans From Costco

If you picked up black beans on a grocery run recently, you'll want to read the lot code on the bottom of the can. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration shared an announcement from Faribault Foods, Inc., the company behind two affected food brands, saying that it voluntarily recalled several cans of its beans due to consumer complaints about faulty airtight seals. Compromised hermetic seals, the announcement reads, "may cause the cans to leak, bloat, or allow bacteria to grow inside the product which could cause serious illness."

Among the recalled items are 15-ounce cans of S&W Organic Black Beans, O Organic Black Beans, and O Organic Chili Beans — all distributed by Faribault Foods, Inc. between February and April. If you purchased a can of beans printed with a lot code included on the FDA's list, you should not consume the beans and should instead return them to the store where you purchased them for a full refund or replacement, according to the announcement. The company corrected the seal issue after receiving complaints, and none of its other products have been affected. 

According to a customer who posted to Reddit, Costco is among one of the major retailers that stock beans from Faribault Foods, Inc., but the recalled cans were also distributed to a range of grocers nationwide.

Why broken seals on canned foods are a serious issue

Hermetic (airtight) seals on canned foods aren't just there for freshness — they're there for safety, as they prevent harmful microorganisms from entering the food and compromising its sterility (via Science Direct). Faulty seals can allow the growth of bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum, the FDA announcement reads, which has the potential to lead to botulism poisoning from six hours to two weeks after consuming the contaminated food. Symptoms from botulism poisoning include problems with vision, slurred speech, muscle weakness, and, when severe, paralysis of breathing muscles and death.

To avoid buying or consuming harmful foods, you can keep up with the FDA's running list of recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts. You may also be able to get the word on recalls sooner if you sign up for email alerts from your grocery store. This is how some Costco customers were alerted about the recalled Faribault beans, according to a Reddit thread. Finally, never consume products that appear to have open or damaged packaging, the FDA advises.