Botulism Risk Sparks Chili Sauce Recall

4 People Hospitalized; Company Recalls 10 Canned Products Due to Possible Botulism Contamination

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 19, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

July 19, 2007 -- Castleberry's Food Company has recalled 10 of its canned products, including three hot dog chili sauces, after at least four people were hospitalized in the first U.S. botulism case in commercially canned goods in several decades, according to the FDA.

Botulism can be fatal. It's a muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum.

The recall only affects the products listed below that have a "Best By" date (found on the top or bottom of the cans) of April 30, 2009 through May 22, 2009:

  • Austex Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce can, UPC Barcode 30300 99533
  • Bunker Hill Chili No Beans, 10-ounce can, UPC Barcode 75266 04112
  • Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce can, UPC Barcode 30300 00101
  • Castleberry's Chili with Beans, 15-ounce can, UPC Barcode 30300 01015
  • Castleberry's Barbeque Pork, 10-ounce can, UPC Barcode 30300 00402
  • Cattle Drive Chili with Beans, 15-ounce can, UPC Barcode 30300 01515
  • Kroger Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce can, UPC Barcode 11110 83942
  • Meijer Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce can, UPC Barcode 41250 95229
  • Morton House Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce can, UPC Barcode 75266 65830
  • Southern Home Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce can, UPC Barcode 07880 15360

The FDA is investigating possible botulism contamination in the recalled products and reports that two children in Texas and an Indiana couple who ate these products became seriously ill and have been hospitalized.

Consumers who have any of these products or any foods made with these products should throw them away immediately. If the “Best By” date is missing or unreadable, consumers should throw the product out, according to the FDA.

What Is Botulism?

There are three main kinds of botulism:

  • Food-borne botulism, which is the type involved in the current recall
  • Infant botulism, which affects a small number of susceptible infants each year who have the botulism-making bacteria in their intestinal tract
  • Wound botulism, which happens when wounds are infected with the botulism-making bacteria

According to background information on the FDA's web site, home-canned foods are more often a source of botulism than are commercially canned foods, which probably reflects the commercial canners' great awareness and better control of the required heat treatment.

Botulism Symptoms

Symptoms of food-borne botulism poisoning can begin from six hours to two weeks after eating food that contains the botulism toxin.

Botulism poisoning symptoms may include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness that moves progressively down the body, affecting the shoulders first then descending to the upper arms, lower arms, thighs, calves, and so on.

Botulism poisoning can also paralyze the breathing muscles, which can be fatal unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided.

Individuals who show any botulism poisoning symptoms and who may have recently eaten the recalled products should immediately seek medical attention.

Botulism doesn't spread from person to person. Food-borne botulism can occur in all age groups.

Refund for Recalled Products

Castleberry's Food Company is based in Augusta, Ga. Its products were distributed nationally, so Castleberry's urges consumers nationwide to check the "Best By" dates on the affected products.

Consumers may remove the label on the cans and take the labels back to their grocery store for a full refund. Only the label is needed for the refund; consumers should throw the recalled cans out, open or not, even if the product doesn't look or smell spoiled.

Castleberry's is cooperating with investigators from the FDA, CDC, and other government officials. Consumers can call the FDA at (888) SAFEFOOD.

Castleberry's recommends consumers with any questions or concerns about this recall should call the company's consumer hotline at (888) 203-8446. The FDA says consumers may also call the FDA's food hotline at (888) SAFEFOOD.

Show Sources

SOURCES: News release, FDA. News release, Castleberry's Food Company. Castleberry's Food Company: "Voluntary Product Recall Information, 7/18/07." CDC: "Facts About Botulism." FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: "Clostridium botulinum." Sebastian Cianci, FDA spokesman.

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