What's With The Moldy Kirkland-Brand Strawberry Spread At Costco?

strawberry jam in a jar and on bread
strawberry jam in a jar and on bread - Jannissimo/Shutterstock

Costco's Kirkland brand is the topic of many discussions, ranging from speculations about which national brands are behind some of its most popular products to Kirkland's signature products that don't quite measure up. The Kirkland-brand organic strawberry spread is one such product that has caused a stir amongst consumers who reported finding mold in a newly opened jar.

Reddit forums as recently as April 2024 reveal that customers around the country have similar experiences. A disgruntled customer posted that she noticed mold or fungus growing atop a jar of strawberry spread she had just purchased, so she returned it and bought another jar. Since the Kirkland brand has a good reputation for high-quality products, the customer gave them the benefit of the doubt, chalking it up as a "one-off" mistake. However, after purchasing a replacement she encountered the mold yet again. Her post incited many commiserating responses about having to throw out or return the strawberry spread for the same reasons.

Many customers expressed surprise, with the original poster noting that it "seems unusual for a Kirkland product," and perhaps it was the result of a bad batch. However, one responder said she's had issues with the strawberry spread since 2020. We looked further back to confirm the claim and found yet another forum about moldy strawberry spread from 2021. At that time, a customer said they "had to quit buying it because it kept getting moldy in a month or two."

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Why Might The Strawberry Spread Getting Moldy?

mold on top of strawberry jam
mold on top of strawberry jam - Katerina Dalemans/Shutterstock

Far from a singular incident, the Kirkland brand strawberry spread has presented mold to Costco customers for years. So, why hasn't Costco addressed the issue? One Redditor urged those affected to take the product back so there would be a recall. A customer from West Virginia said that their Costco didn't ignore the complaint, but instead, "they removed all of them from my warehouse and it's not returned."

This comment sparked a series of hypotheses as to why the spread grows mold so easily. One customer believed the source of the problem was a design flaw with the jar, while another said that the jar "wasn't closed/sealed in an oxygen free zone." Mold, like humans, feeds off of sugars in strawberry spread. However, mold cannot grow without the presence of oxygen. If oxygen seeps in, say through a loose top or during the sealing process, this could explain why it's a recurring problem.

Still, others surmised that a short shelf life is due to the organic strawberry spread not containing chemical preservatives to make it last. With or without chemical preservatives, the way to make strawberry spread is itself a method for preservation that should last up to two years unopened at room temperature and up to a year in the fridge once opened. A moldy jar of strawberry spread cannot be salvaged, so Redditors' comments about throwing the jar out or taking it back to the store were well-founded.

Read the original article on Tasting Table