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Costco stores stop serving free food samples due to coronavirus concerns

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in the U.S., many businesses are taking extra precautions.
/ Source: TODAY

As many Americans flock to Costco to stock up on non-perishable groceries, hand sanitizer and toilet paper as they prepare for a possible quarantine due to coronavirus, it appears shoppers won't be able to take advantage of one of the warehouse's most famous perks: free food samples.

On Friday, the Instagram account @CostcoDeals, which shares information about in-store discounts and new products, shared a post declaring that Costco had suspended serving samples in stores "until further notice."

"Just got word, one of our followers is a sample person for CDS which is Costco’s vendor who does all the food samples and looks like they will not be serving samples for the foreseeable future," the account captioned the post.

A representative from Costco’s corporate media team was not immediately available to confirm whether this policy was being enacted at all stores nationwide but, when reached by TODAY Food, multiple store locations in different regions of the country said they stopped serving samples earlier this week.

"Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, there are no food product samples,” a representative for Costco in Nashville, Tennessee, told TODAY.

Representatives from stores in Staten Island, New York; Miami, Chicago and multiple locations in California all confirmed that they had temporarily suspended the service of free food samples and did not know when they would resume the practice.

Many have taken to social media to voice their disappoint and concern over the news.

Betsy Kubota, a teacher based in Chicago who shops at Costco regularly, was thrown off by the lack of samples during a trip to the store this week.

"I did my Friday after work cruise through Costco, and they didn't have any food samples!" Kubota told TODAY. "It surprised me. Not one, not a single one."

However, Kubota did notice there was at least one freebie available.

"I saw someone giving free samples of hand lotion," she said.

As more stores continue to enact policies to help prevent the spread of germs, it would make sense for people to avoid touching a communal tray and putting something right in their mouth. But since snacking on free samples from Costco is a pretty beloved pastime, many shoppers are just lamenting that their trips to stock up on supplies just got less fun.