Castleberry's massive recall came after four people fell ill with botulism poisoning after eating the company's hot dog chili sauces. The initial four victims were two Texas children and an Indiana couple, all of whom were hospitalized, but are reported to be recovering. The latest three victims reported are a San Diego woman who has been diagnosed with botulism poisoning, and two people in Hawaii who are exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
Botulism poisoning from commercially canned goods is extremely rare in the U.S. The FDA last recorded a case in 1971. Botulism is a serious and occasionally fatal illness caused by consumption of food containing butulism toxin, a nerve toxin that can causes paralysis of the arms, breathing muscles and legs. Symptoms such as blurred vision and slurred speech generally begin 18 hours to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. Botulism is so toxic that it can cause paralysis to a person who merely breathes it in or exposes his eyeballs or broken skin to the toxin.
Castleberry's recall, which affects tens of millions of cans, applies to 90 types of sauces, beans, stew, chili, corned beef hash and pet foods from one malfunctioning production line between April 30 and May 22, 2007, at the company's Augusta, Georgia, plant. The plant produced more than 10,000 24-can cases of product a day. The problem appeared to stem from a particular bank of retorts—large vessels used to heat canned foods to temperatures higher than 250 degrees to kill botulism spores. When the FDA sent testers in, they found 17 swollen and bulging cans from two days of production, 16 of which tested positive for the toxin. Castleberry extended the recall to a much longer period out of caution.
For complete information on the products recalled, individuals may go to Castleberry's [website]. Information is also available at the following telephone numbers: 800-203-4412 or 888-203-8446.
READ MORE LEGAL NEWSMembers of the public are warned to immediately search their cupboards and shelves to see if they have any of the recalled products, which are identified with a seal that has "EST.195" printed on it. Any recalled products they find should be discarded immediately. The cans should not be punctured or opened.
Castleberry's has hired an outside firm to visit more than 8,500 retailers around the Unted States in an effort to get the recalled products off store shelves as quickly as possible.
State and federal officials are auditing food establishments to make sure that all the recalled products are removed from circulation. In New York, for instance, where food inspectors have conducted audits at more than 1,000 businesses, about 5% of the managers contacted were unaware of the recall. FDA inspectors have visited more than 3,000 retail establishments and found that almost 10% of them—mostly smaller stores and convenience stores—still had recalled products on their shelves.