×

My Big Brother Costco

I know it's off the beat a bit, but one of the two surprising letters I got in the mail at home last week does come from one of the companies I cover, Abbott Labs . I knew that ABT was a mini-J&J--part drugs, part medical devices and part consumer products. But sometimes you just never know what's tucked inside their huge product portfolio.

    • FDA defends handling of peanut/salmonella outbreak
    • Abbott Nutrition Announces Voluntary Recall of ZonePerfect

I'm a longtime Costco member and shop there probably, on average, about once a month. Last week, I got two notices that were labeled on the outside as being from Costco and regarding a "Food Safety Recall Notice." They're related to the ongoing peanut (Salmonella) problem. One is on letterhead from the privately-held Clif Bar & Company and the other one from the publicly-traded Abbott Labs.

peanutbutter_letter1a.jpg

Apparently, ABT owns "ZonePerfect" nutritional bars.

It's not a business segment I normally pay any attention to, but it turns out ABT sold $2.2 billion worth of so-called "adult nutritionals" last year, an increase of 10 percent. That's a pretty big number.

The bars at my house have all long ago been eaten. I'm still here. I appreciated the Costco notices, but I was also kind of surprised that the store apparently keeps tabs on everything I buy. I knew that it adds up what I spend in a year because it often entitles me to an annual "rewards" check, but I was totally unaware that it itemizes my purchases.

I don't have a problem with it, but some people might.

Regardless of how you feel about it, if you bought them at a store that doesn't monitor your buying habits, know that you should throw the stuff away and that you can get a refund if you didn't eat them already.

peanutbutter_letter2.jpg

































Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com