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Botulism Sparks Recall of Lakeside Foods Green Beans

Aug 6, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP Lakeside Foods, Inc has recalled 360,000 cans of green beans amid concerns that they could be contaminated by botulism.  This is the second botulism related recall in less than a month.  Lakeside Foods based in Wisconsin said that it is recalling 14.5 ounce cans of French Style green beans because of a production error that could make the cans more susceptible to botulism contamination.  So far, none of the cans of green beans have tested positive for the deadly toxin, and there have been no reported illnesses related to the product.

The French Style green beans produced by Lakeside Foods were sold in 20 states under the store names Albertson, IGA, Shop n’ Save and Shopper’s Value.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recall alert for the Lakeside green beans on Friday.  The cans included in the recall have the following label numbers in the top line of their codes:  EAA5247, EAA5257, EAA2567, EAA2577, EAB5247, EAB5257, ECA5207, ECA5217, ECA5227, ECA5297, ECB5207, ECB5217, ECB5227, and ECB5307.  The FDA warned consumers to throw away the green beans, even if the product codes are missing.  The agency also warned consumers to be careful if the cans are leaking, as that can be a sign that the green beans are tainted with botulism.  

Botulism is a highly dangerous toxin that can grow in canned foods if they are not processed properly.  Symptoms of botulism include blurred vision, drooping eyelids, muscle weakness, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing.  If not treated properly, botulism can paralyze breathing muscles.  Victims can spend months on ventilators until the botulism toxin is out of their system.

Lakeside Foods said that a production error in May caused too many beans to be packed into cans.  To prevent botulism, canned foods must be heated to a specific temperature for a set period of time.  At the plant were the Lakeside’s green beans were canned, the weight of the beans determined processing time.  Because the cans were not their standard weight, there is a chance that they were not heated for the proper amount of time, creating an ideal environment for the growth of botulism toxin.  

This is the second botulism-related recall in less than a month.  In July, Castleberry’s Food Company recalled more than 90 varieties of hot dog chili sauce, stews, hash, chili and dog food after four cases of botulism poisoning were traced to those products.   A production error at Castleberry’s Augusta, Georgia plant was also blamed in that recall.  Prior to these recalls, there had been no reports of botulism related to commercial foods in 40 years.  Botulism was usually a problem caused by home canning.

The Lakeside recall comes as Congress is investigating the nation’s food safety system following several large-scale food poisoning outbreaks linked to manufactured foods.  In February, more than 600 people were sickened by Salmonella-tainted Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter manufactured by the ConAgra Foods at a plant in Georgia.  And in June, Veggie Bootie, a popular children’s snack sickened 100 people and was found to be contaminated with Salmonella.  Salmonella-tainted salad was also linked to an outbreak of the disease at the Taste of Chicago Food Festival last month.

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