Botulism Investigation Closes Food Plant

Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce Recall AP / CBS

This story was written by CBS News Producer Mark Katkov.

Castleberry Food Co. is recalling every product manufactured on a specific production line in the past two years in response to four cases of botulism poisoning in Texas and Indiana.

The production line is one of "four or five" in its Augusta, Ga., facility. On Saturday night the company also shut down the entire plant for one week while it investigates the cause of the botulism poisoning.

The plant's 450 employees, under terms of their union contract, will not be paid during the closure.

Castleberry recalled 10 hot dog chili sauce products on July 18 after 16 of 17 cans tested were found contaminated with botulism toxin. The cans were manufactured on one production line between April 30 and May 22 of this year. The company says the apparent cause of the contamination is that the product was undercooked and therefore not sterilized.

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by consuming foods with the botulinim toxin, a nerve toxin that left untreated can cause paralysis of the arms, breathing muscles and legs. Symptoms, such as blurred vision and slurred speech, generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food.

Castleberry says no other products have tested positive for botulism. Nonetheless, the company is recalling more than 80 food products intended for humans sold under more than 25 brand names and manufactured on the production line in question.

Also produced on the line, and also recalled, are a number of pet food products. The company says the products are sold in more than 17,000 stores nationwide and in Canada.

A third-party company has been hired to carry out the recall beginning Monday.

Castleberry has posted all the recalled products on its Web site and has set up a consumer hotline: 800-203-4412.

They are telling consumers to remove all products from their homes and dispose of them in double plastic bags. Castleberry says consumers can contact the company (not the retailer) for a full refund.
  • Lindsay Goldwert

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