Costco Suspends Food Samples Due to Coronavirus Concerns

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Exterior of Costco warehouse

Better grab something to eat before your next Costco run!

If you’ve been to Costco recently, you may have noticed that it looks a little different these days. It’s not just the larger-than-usual crowds or the empty shelves where hand sanitizer and toilet paper used to be. It’s also the complete absence of food samples!

woman wearing mask inside Costco

Although there has been no official word on whether free samples have been removed from all locations company-wide, there were none being distributed at our local Costco when we went to investigate. We checked all the usual locations, and there was not one food sample to be found!

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We spoke with a manager at this location who confirmed that the store stopped giving out samples to help limit the communicability of coronavirus. The manager went on to say that there’s no telling when Costco’s free samples will return, as this will depend on how the coronavirus situation unfolds.

Costco’s free samples have been one of the fun perks of warehouse club shopping for years, and they will most certainly be missed. In the meantime, there’s always the food court but note that a limited menu is available and orders are only available for takeout and seating is not available! Just be prepared to show your membership card.

These are 8 of the BEST items from Costco’s food court… and they’re all under $5!

Join The Discussion

Comments 88

  1. Cheryl

    Just went to Costco Saturday and there were samples everywhere.

    • Valerie0408

      Almost a week ago you went. Things change lol

  2. Linda

    My Costco was still doing samples as of Wednesday.

    • dylanfan

      This was announced today..

  3. blondemama

    I bet they did this in response to the meme going around about it. Haha.

  4. IndyMom

    So what you’re saying is I may be able to get through the aisles on Saturday☺️. I fully support this decision!

    • Michelle

      I wouldn’t count on it, I went this morning and it was madness. The line to get in before they opened wrapped around the back of the building and then inside the line went all around the store for water and employees were policing the cart traffic, lol.

      • bdubs

        Is this normal at Costco or just panic shopping? One recently opened near us and we were considering joinging rather than doing Sams again. We drove by a few weeks ago and the parking lot was crazy but we thought it might be due to the novelty. If large crowds are common we may reconsider.

        • Shavonda Graham

          It is regularly madness in there. Very popular items so rarely will you go and get an empty store. Even weekdays.

        • Jessica Roman

          Just panic mode

        • Jodi

          Totally depends on where you live. There’s overall panic right now and it’s an easy place to stock up at. I wouldn’t give up – it’s so much better than Sam’s.

          • Nobody is allowed to talk about this

            Food Demos have been suspended in our area. The Demo people are NOT allowed to talk about, so DO not ASK them what is going on

    • Suzanne

      LOL! I was thinking the same thing!

    • M

      I went this morning and they where probably a couple hundred people waiting to get in.

      • Mary

        A lot of people being put out of work. I do food demos and follow more stringent procedures to ensure public safety than ANY restaurant. Cooks and chefs are not required to wear gloves during ALL phases of food preparation. I am required to change gloves whenever I accidentally come in contact with a customer. Rude customers grab stuff off my table all the time and guess what happens when that happens? The entire batch has to be thrown out. Don’t think it’s a problem when your 8 year old brat sticks his/her hand into the bag of cookies on my table; everything on my table has to be discarded and/or sanitized. I think this policy is to protect US from the slobs that only go to Costco and Sams Clubs JUST for the free food. And, guess what? I am not allowed to have ANY of the samples I’m giving away.

  5. T

    Samples are usually healthy crap I don’t care that much about lol

    • Celenorma


  6. Sue

    I would not want any of the samples. So many times customers touch the other samples and contaminate them. I have even seen the employees lick their fingers as they are serving the samples and that is not just at Costco.

    • MrsGarfield

      This is wrong. I have never seen it at our store. I’ve seen many times if a customer wants to change the sample – the person preparing it doesn’t let them do it. And I have seen couple of times when someone actually put a sample back that person threw everything away because they said that was the requirement.

      • riss

        Agreed. Though i saw this at Sam’s club. My friend actually tried to touch the cake and the sample lady was so quick to tell her “don’t ” coz if my friend did, she is required to throw the whole cake.

      • jkp

        I have seen this also.

      • Nobody is allowed to talk about this

        Thanks for sticking up for the Demo people. Most of us doing this crappy job rely on the income. Believe me it was NOT our first choice in Jobs, but after a certain age people look down on you.

    • C

      Sue- that’s gross! Here the people doing the samples wear disposable gloves and if say someone touches one of their gloved hands, they dispose of the gloves and put on new ones ….. also I’ve never seen anyone touch multiple samples (unless they were taking multiple ones- eg if I go with my mom, I’ll grab 2 samples – easier than both of us waiting to grab one)

    • Dani

      Are you SURE you’re thinking of Costco??? The people who serve the sample are well-trained and diligent. They do NOT allow that sort of behavior from customers or from employees.

      In contrast, I’ve seen employees at Sam’s Club who were way less careful about hygiene. In fact, I reported two over the years. BUT, at Costco, I always feel safe.

    • Nobody is allowed to talk about this

      Samples touched by other Customers are thrown away immediately.

  7. ebg

    I went yesterday and avoided the free samples. Even the food court was pretty empty for lunch time. There was a sign saying they didnt have hand sanitizer and that other essentials (like water, rice, lysol, toilet paper etc) would be limited to 5. I got some water which they had plenty of because I was gonna buy it regardless for tea/coffee. I dont know what the weekend will be like but the store wasnt crazy like it is when a hurricane is coming.

    • MrsGarfield

      Our store doesn’t have limits and it’s impossible to find water. I hope they have implemented limits. It’s insane. I think people are overdoing it.

  8. doomster0826

    Oh no! What are all those people going to do without their lunch! Gasp!

  9. mama

    I’d pay a double membership fee for them to permanently get rid of samples. I would rather a sample bag to go in food related. But it’s tiring navigating a cart the size of a car for people to cut you off for a sample

    • bobmason

      Ditto. So annoying being over run by elderly just coming to Costco for the free samples.

      • KellyBoyle

        Omg YES!!!

    • Nobody is allowed to talk about this

      Really. I am glad your income does not rely on handing out samples at Costco.

  10. Laure

    Sams club should do the same – and not just because of the coronavirus. I was at Sams club this past Sunday and witnessed a man that was serving some sort of flavored water with gloves on – WIPE HIS NOSE!

  11. Lel

    I imagine restaurants and fast food places are going to take a hit soon.

  12. Amy

    My costco gave out samples yesterday.

    • dylanfan

      This started today.

  13. Allison

    While I enjoy the samples immensely, I think this is good. I have seen so many people put their hands on multiple samples. I’m another note, I have gone twice this week and they have been out of paper towels and toilet paper. A worker said people are just filling their carts. Has anyone else run into this?

    • s

      Our Costco in Durham,North Carolina had so much water you could barely get your cart through the aisle and had tons of Clorox wipes, toilet paper, and paper towels.❤️

    • TK

      Sam’s Club hardly had any TP this morning. I’m 45 minutes east of the Raleigh area where there are now 2 confirmed cases of the virus. They had no hand sanitizer and were limiting soap, and wipes.

      • Kay

        I’m in New Bern, NC and there’s no hand sanitizer ANYWHERE. Every store I’ve checked is completely sold out.

    • Qgirlfriend

      Yes, my husband made three trips to Costco this past week, for water. The first two times they were sold out. We’re having an issue with our well water right now, so we buy a couple cases of bottled water there each week. He said they are limiting water to two cases now.

    • riss

      Last weekens, on our way home from Napa, we stopped by Costco and every cart coming out has TP, paper towels and cases of bottled water. We went and bought 1 each, no more space in the car. We went to our local Costco the following day and they were out of TPs and water. And of course, no hand sanitizer and wipes, but there was a handful of lysol spray left. The bread isle was almost empty, too. Target had no pain reliever/fever meds, no first aid supplies, no feminine napkins. I think panic buying started here in California.

  14. Sandy

    My costco handed out samples yesterday. Do they usually hand them out or only on certain days? I normally stop in at 10 am right after my kids go to preschool and there are no samples available. I happened to stop in at noon yesterday. My kids had a nice surprise. My son was telling the sample ladies that he loved them. He also shared that he has enough money to buy a swing set (which he does not) because the ef3 tornado that hit our house last May destroyed his. He wants to drive the green floor machine to earn money. Kids are so cute and innocent. If you see any deals on large outdoor playsets please post I have 6 small kids so the bigger the better.

    • Kylee

      Costco has an outdoor playset for $300 off starting March 11th.

  15. Debby

    I was in Costco yesterday and they were doing samples. As everybody was panicking buying 800 rolls of toilet paper and Clorox but took their time to touch samples and breathe on each other. I never get samples at Costco because people are just obnoxious. 🙂

    • Nobody is allowed to talk about this

      So you are saying the people grabbing the samples are obnoxious. Yes they are but the Demo people have NO control over the Customers behavior. They are NOT allowed to say anything to the customers that it not politically correct. If a customer touches they tray or samples, they throw them out due to health violations. This is a health department code. Try handing out samples in Costco for a day and see how hard it is. You need to be desperate for a job that has to put up with the public.

  16. MJ

    I was at Costco today, no samples at my store and it was a zoo. They were out of the Generic tp and paper towels. I went for the charmin, but I’m pretty sure my 8 yr old will clog the toilet with it😬. I decided to not get the bounty paper towels…maybe I should have bought them anyway! Is there a reason to buy bottled water because of the virus? It didn’t even occur to me…I understand a 2 week supply of stuff if you are stuck in your home but I’m not sure how water factors in.

    • Rebecca

      Yeah I can’t figure the water one out either, unless your tap water is unsafe to drink I guess 🤷

      • shop4mybabies

        i live in a city that used to have a smelter plant, our soil and things of that nature were contaminated. our house was built in 55 and the main pipes are that old, i’m paranoid about our water unless we boil it first…so bottled it is.

        • LMR

          Boiling water only kills bacteria and viruses and doesn’t remove chemicals leaching from pipes or contaminated soil.

        • JulietteY

          Maybe check out Berkey or ProPur water filtering systems?

    • Jackie

      From what I gather, the fear is, if the virus becomes widespread, the city water personnel may be ill or without the workforce to repair disruptions with the water lines. In Alaska, where I live, an earthquake can disrupt the water table making tap water unsafe to drink. I guess it’s more of a learned response…possible emergency…stock up on water, milk, bread and toilet paper.

  17. Mitch


  18. Anonymous ❤️

    I met my husband at my demo job thanks to Hip2save in 2016. Married this year.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)


    • Ashley

      How rude @ Sharon !!!!!

    • grandmat57


  19. supersaver

    The Home Depot Kids workshops were also cancelled due to coronavirus concerns 😱

  20. Kim

    My Costco was handing out samples of stuffed grape leaves and a keto snack mix yesterday. However, at the door they were handing out wipes for your cart. And at the food court, an employee was standing by the tables and as soon as people got up he was spraying and wiping them.

  21. Monique

    My mom works at Costco no samples per corporate and the door people are expected to wipe down all the carts also she stayed later to deep clean registers last night

    • Rhonda

      They were cleaning carts last week. Problem is they’re doing it at the door. I had already retrieved my cart from the cart corral so if it had been contaminated I had already touched it.

  22. K Christensen

    If your costco has its food court outside like in Southern California, then you do NOT need a membership to eat there. It is open to the public, no questions asked.

    • momof5

      Ours is outside in CA and has signs up saying membership required when I went last weekend.

  23. Kat

    I do not get the shortage of toilet paper and paper towels that’s the least of my worries!!! U can clean yourself other ways !!! Not necessary people

    • Qgirlfriend

      Lol! I agree 😂

  24. shop4mybabies

    my daughter attends the University of Washington and today they were told the rest of the quarter would be completed from home. no classes on their 3 campuses. my husband happened to stay home today because he was lazy, he dialed in to their morning meeting and was told they are working from home and evaluating each week if they should return. guess i’m going to need more toilet paper with two more home all day 🙂

  25. todd

    Can anyone PLEASE tell me why people are stocking up on toilet paper and water? It is so ridicious. Are people gonna start wiping their butts better now? People are such idiots sometimes.

    • Michelle

      Because if there does end up being a mass breakout and the government issues some sort of mandatory quarantine, you don’t want to be stuck in your home without toilet paper. The water thing I don’t get, though… I understand a few reasons (live permanently in an RV, lead leeching into pipes, etc) but for the most part, tap water IS drinkable. If you don’t like the taste, stock up on crystal light or tang. 🤷‍♀️

      • riss

        I read this somewhere. If there is a mandatory quarantine, who will man the water treatment facility? Does it run on auto-pilot, I really don’t know. But it’s better to be prepared. Just buy food that you would normally buy and eat, only a lot more in quantity to ride out the possible mandatory quarantine.

        • Michelle

          I would hope they would allow bare minimum necessary workers to do their jobs, firefighters, doctors, water treatment plants, power plants, etc. Making everyone else stay home for a kind of herd immunity effect. So probably way more preparation than necessary, but at least I know I’ve got toilet paper, lol.

          • jkp

            Of course they would.

        • Sylvie

          Don’t worry the needed staff won’t be quarantined

      • J berggren

        Yeah, that works, except for those of us who only have well water. Have you ever seen the sediment in hard well water? It is not about the taste, it is about what is in the water, I don’t even boil my eggs in well water!

        • Michelle

          I’d say that fits under my “etc” of reasons to be getting water, lol. My parents had well water for 25 years and even with a softener it was bad and gave them digestive issues.

    • lydia

      If you need to be quarantined for 3 weeks in your house you definitely don’t want to run out of TP lol

      • Sylvie

        I don’t want to run out of Chardonnay, fortunately there are still some bottles on shelves

  26. lmr

    If you have drinkable tap water then bottled water is unnecessary.

  27. Urvi

    One word,people: bidet. Costco has ‘em for $40. Takes 10-15 min to install on any toilet. Everything is in the box but the screwdriver. You have one of those in the house, I’m sure. Where are people storing all this stuff they are stocking up on!?! I’ve got no space in my house. 🤣

  28. Trista

    Rude comments all over sick of this!

  29. Sherry

    My Costco had no samples today, the workers with hair nets were busy wiping down handles to the freezer doors and folding clothes! At least they’re still employed and getting paid.

  30. PW

    That’s a lot of people without jobs now. Sad.

    • mel

      the food sample people? An article I read said they can work in other parts of the store if they want. And they’ll get their jobs back after this commotion is over.

  31. Cindy

    We went to Costco yesterday and we were informed of the no samples then. The demo workers had nothing to do, so they were instead tasked with walking around with cleaning products and paper towels to wipe things down.

    The pharmacy had a sign posted stating they are out of rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and hand sanitizer, and also mentioned that they don’t sell masks, “so please don’t ask us for them.”

    Other than that, there were no purchase limits or empty shelves. There was plenty of toilet paper, water, rice, etc.

  32. JJ

    What Costco really needs to supply are sanitary wipes for people to wipe down the carts before entering the store. Those carts are a cesspool of germs! Every other store has them! Sam’s, Kroger, Meijer and Target, why not Costco? Makes me think twice about shopping there!

    • Dani

      What??? Our Costco has had FREE wipes provided in containers at the doors for at least three years now. Just like grocery stores and Target, etc.

      In addition to that, our Costco now has an employee spraying and wiping down carts FOR customers. They’re doing this BEFORE you touch the carts. Other in this thread have mentioned they have also seen employees wiping down carts to prepare them for customers.

  33. C

    I called today- we were going to shop and get samples- they said they’re not doing any for “consumer safety”… no samples. and our entire state has zero known cases and has even tested about 20 people as a precaution (all tests negative)…. there’s so much hype over this virus it’s crazy

  34. Aki

    Our Costco is always crowded . That’s one of the reasons I don’t shop there. I just don’t understand the hype, and why average sized families need to stockpile enormous quantities of stuff. I heard that our local Costco was also out of water and TP . However , other grocery stores are well stocked with the essentials . I usually shop at Aldi , and there doesn’t seem to be panic buying there .

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