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Costco stops giving out free samples in some stores over COVID-19 concerns

It was unclear if the wholesale warehouse chain has removed samples from every store in the U.S. or only certain locations.

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco has removed free food samples at some of its stores amid the coronavirus outbreak around the world.

News outlets report that for hygienic purposes, Costco is not serving samples at some stores around the world to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. It was unclear if the wholesale warehouse chain has removed samples from every store in the U.S. or only certain locations.

Representatives for a company that handles product demonstrations for the store chain headquartered in Issaquah, Washington confirmed it pulled samples from stores in the United States and China, according to Business Insider.

Costco says it has been struggling to keep bottled water, disinfectants and other critical supplies in stock as shoppers preparing to hunker down stock up, according to USA Today.

The concerns about the free samples and the new virus were raised on Reddit this week.

"Eating samples from the same tray and then we put the food in our mouths and lick our fingers/wipe our mouths and go on to the next sample tray... Everyone is at Costco right now... This is how stuff travels fast," one shopper wrote.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 100,000 people and killed over 3,400, the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.

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