From Breitbart News Network to The Washington Post, a story about Costco shopping carts and raw meat briefly captured the attention of media from right to left this week in a rare alignment.

Photo by Loretta Seto

Actually, though, Costco is getting a raw deal. Only its shopping carts were involved, apparently without permission, but some people misunderstood a Friday Facebook post by Loretta Seto. The post falls into the category of “everybody has a camera,” as founder Doug Powell would say.

“Beware: Costco shopping carts (Automation Parkway in San Jose),” Seto said in her Facebook post.

“We were at the 99 Ranch Market across from this Costco and saw their vendors delivering meat with Costco shopping carts!! Talk about disgusting! I’m usually okay with sticking the kids in the seat of the basket, but this is a whole new level of gross. Beware.”

Accompanying her post are two photos showing men pushing shopping carts into what appears to be a grocery store. The “buggies” as our friends across the pond call them, are overflowing with chunks of raw meat, including whole hog legs with the feet in tact.

By last night, Google searches on the topic were ranging from 5,600 to 283,000 hits, depending on what combination of key words I used and whether I limited my search to “news” sources or “all” sources. Pretty impressive for a non-political story that only had 1,846 shares 20 hours after hitting Facebook. By 11:25 EST last night, Seto’s post had 589 FB comments.

Loretta Seto posted these photos on her Facebook page, generating media attention and an investigation by Santa Clara public health officials. To view a larger version, please click on the image. Photos by Loretta Seto

Some of those comments slammed Costco. Some of them slammed the commenters who misunderstood Seto’s post and thought the pronoun “their” was referring to Costco’s meat supplier. Some of them slammed Seto because she shops at 99 Ranch.

The vast majority of those commenting were simply grossed out.

A fair number of the comments addressed the obvious food safety issues. A lot of comments expressed concern about cross-contamination of the carts. One person wants Costco to double dip them in bleach and then burn them.

Neither Costco nor 99 Ranch had posted information on their websites about the alleged incident as of last night. Objectively, the name of the grocery store is not visible in Seto’s photos. But, the carts clearly bear Costco’s name.

There is a Costco store across the street from one of the 99 Ranch chain’s stores on Automation Parkway in San Jose, so it’s not too difficult to imagine that some carts have migrated.

Newspapers in the Southwest have given the story quite a bit of ink. Iconic broadsheets including the The San Jose Mercury News and The Modesto Bee got confirmation from the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health that an investigation is in the works and a comment from a spokeswoman at the implicated meat company who said the two employees in Seto’s photos have been fired.

NBC Bay Area identified the meat vendor as Atwater-based Jim’s Farm Meat Co. The NBC News affiliate also reported that a spokeswoman from the 99 Ranch grocery chain said the store in San Jose threw out all of the pork it had on hand from Jim’s Farm.

It would seem that the facts are pretty well documented in this multi-dimensional horror story. Here’s hoping the incident results in those in the field-to-fork continuum increasing their scrutiny of trading partners and their own food safety protocols.

The only good news out of this story is the momentary break it gave us from the constant barrage of repeated, regurgitated and ridiculous commentary that so often counts as news nowadays.

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