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FDA Calls Hot Dog Chili Sauce Botulism an “Urgent Public Health Matter”

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed the recall of Castleberry Food’s chili and hot dog sauce products for botulism contamination an “urgent public health matter”. The recall involves tens of millions of cans of chili sauce, hot dog sauce and covers almost a hundred different names of product. The FDA is appealing to consumers and retailers to find the recalled products and dispose of them immediately.

The recall was initiated on July 18 after four cases of botulism poisoning were tied to Castleberry’s hot dog chili sauces. Last week, tests confirmed that two Texas children and an Indiana couple were suffering from botulism. All four of those victims had eaten one of Castleberry’s hot dog sauces. The recall was later expanded to include 80 types of sauces, beans, stew, chili, hash and pet foods produced at the company’s plant. Castleberry’s said that all of the items came from one malfunctioning processing line at its plant in Augusta, Georgia. The company is working with the FDA to track down its distribution records so the agency can determine were the tainted products finally ended up. The Augusta plant will remain closed until Castleberry’s receives an approval from the FDA to reopen it.

Botulism is an extremely dangerous disease that can lead to paralysis and even death. It is characterized by blurred vision, drooping eyelids, muscle weakness, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. If not treated promptly, botulism can paralyze breathing muscles, and patients can spend months on ventilators waiting for the toxin to wear off.

This is the first botulism scare in over 40 years that has been linked to a commercially produced food. The FDA is telling consumers to check their homes for any of the recalled products. If they are found, the cans should be double bagged and placed in a trash container for non-recyclable waste. Anyone with questions about this recall can contact Castleberry’s consumer hotline at 1-800-203-4412 or go online to www.castleberrys.com.

The Castleberry’s botulism outbreak is only the latest in a string of commercial food poisoning cases to plague the country this year. In February, the FDA ordered a recall of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter after they were tied to an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning. So far, more than 600 cases of illness have been tied to the contaminated peanut butter. The source of the contamination was traced to a ConAgra Foods factory in Sylvester, Georgia. In June, the FDA ordered a recall of Veggie Booty Snack Mix, a popular children’s treat, after more than 50 people became ill with Salmonella poisoning. Robert’s Gourmet American Foods, the Long Island Company that makes the snack, has said that seasonings imported from China were to blame for the contamination, but the FDA is still investigating.

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