Diarrhea. You’ve probably had it before, but maybe not from the same cause that several people reported getting it from over the last couple weeks. Coffeehouse chain Starbucks doesn’t just serve coffee; more varied menu items have made it into their locations over time. One of the very recent additions may be responsible for sending a few people running to their toilets…in the literal and scatological sense.
The item in question was the chicken, maple butter, and egg sandwich from Starbucks. As the name would suggest, it contains chicken, egg, and some maple butter. It may have contained campylobacter, a bacteria that causes diarrhea.It is worth noting that this bacteria can be encountered in a number of ways, but one of them is through undercooked or raw chicken. It was pulled from the menu on June 26th, only five days after it premiered.
During that time a number of complaints appeared on social media. Complaints ranged from bemoaning the after-effects of eating the sandwich, to the chicken being still cold or frozen in the middle. The process for preparing the sandwiches at individual Starbucks locations is all about reheating. The chicken, maple butter, and egg sandwiches are shipped to the coffeehouses having been previously cooked and then frozen. They are placed in a high temp oven, and reheated for a set amount of time.
Rather than blaming your local store or barista, It’s more likely something went wrong in the initial cooking process. Maybe the cooking process didn’t reach the intended temperature for bacteria to be killed. Maybe the cuts of chicken were too thick, and weren’t cooked long enough. Certain foods have to be prepared properly, especially when they can be linked to certain bacteria. Salmonella is commonly linked with chickens, but has also been found in peanut butter.
Because campylobacter can be found in numerous sources, including untreated water, there is a distinct possibility the sandwiches were not the problem. At the time of this writing, there’s only anecdotal evidence to support the idea that the Starbucks sandwiches were responsible for the cases of diarrhea.
Starbucks has done the responsible thing and pulled the sandwiches anyway. It’s the best thing they really could’ve done in such a crappy situation, especially if there was a risk of more people becoming ill. Or maybe years later we’ll find out it was the maple butter the entire time and no one was any the wiser for it. We’ve got our eyes on you, maple butter.