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Botulism-Tainted Castleberry's Chili Linked to Illnesses in California, Hawaii

Jul 30, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP Chili recalled by Castleberry’s Food may be to blame for several reported cases of botulism poisoning in two states.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that a San Diego woman has been diagnosed with botulism, while two people in Hawaii have exhibited symptoms of the disease.  All three victims reported eating a recalled Castleberry’s canned chili product.

The Castleberry’s recall was initiated on July 18 after four cases of botulism poisoning were tied to the company’s hot dog chili sauces.  Tests had confirmed that two Texas children and an Indiana couple were suffering from the disease.  All four of those victims had eaten one of Castleberry’s hot dog sauces.  The recall was later expanded to include 90 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.   

In California, a 51-year-old woman was hospitalized for 10 days with botulism poisoning.  She said that she had eaten one of the recalled products, Kroger Chili with Beans, earlier this month.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it can take up to two weeks for botulism symptoms to appear.  Because the woman threw away the Chili with Beans prior to becoming sick, health official in California will be unable to determine if the product was, in fact, tainted.

In Hawaii, two men have reported botulism symptoms.  On Friday, Keith Regan, 35, checked into the Maui Memorial Medical Center complaining of flu-like symptoms.  The hospital told Regan he possibly had a mild case of botulism.  Regan told the hospital that he had eaten a can of Cattle Drive Chili on July 20.  A day earlier, John Stockton, 33, had also checked into Maui Memorial Medical Center complaining of muscle weakness and facial paralysis.  He had also eaten a Castleberry’s chili product. The hospital is awaiting results of tests to confirm whether the men have botulism.

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.

Late last week, the FDA said that recalled Castleberry’s products were still being found on some store shelves.  Because of this, the FDA urged 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

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