The Gross Thing Some Costco Shoppers Think They're Finding In Their Fruit Spread

Grumbles and concern rumbled in the Costco subreddit yesterday. An unhappy user shared a picture of a jar of sandwich spread that was described as "freshly opened." A brownish gritty substance is seen clumped on the surface. "Kirkland signature organic strawberry spread moldy," the poster wrote for the caption.

Mashed cannot verify whether the substance is, in fact, mold, or how it wound up on the spread. One person in the comments thought that it looked like yeast. "It was for sure still sealed?" they asked. Obviously, yeast contamination – if that's what's captured in the picture – would not be ideal either. However, the OP shot down this theory, stating that the two jars were still sealed, both were moldy, and both should have been good until November 2022. 

Others joined in with their own claims of moldy Kirkland spreads. "I had to quit buying this stuff because of mold also," one alleged. "It would get moldy in the fridge after just a month or two." Another sympathized, saying, "This actually happened to me a few months back. Fresh container too, and a big blotch of mold." They took their jar back to Costco. However, a different commenter seemed to swear by the strawberry spread, saying they had no problem over a four- or five-year span of buying the product.

Strawberry spreads shouldn't be molding

The thing about jams, preserves, and jellies is that they don't mold so easily. Certified Master Food Preserver Kevin West told Eater that the process used to preserve jams and jellies should make them very bad candidates for mold growth. Such a point prompted one person in the Reddit thread to ask, "Are you sure it's not pectin? It's really hard for mold to grow in really jams and jellies."

If we accept that the various experiences of moldy spread are true, that leaves the question of how it happens. One possibility would be cross-contamination before the jarring. The Nibble says that when putting more than one condiment on bread, it's better to use a different spoon for jelly out of concern that if even a single mold spore on a piece of bread makes it into the jar, it could proliferate. When the jam company Sqirl suffered its PR crisis in 2020, Eater reported one employee's allegation that mold would descend from a storage room's fan into the open jam buckets. 

There's no information concerning the contents of the spread mentioned on Reddit, but if it is mold, and if the issue is sufficiently widespread, we can probably expect to hear more about this.