Castleberry drastically expands food recall

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 22, 2007

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC-- It started with several types of canned chili, but now a recall on food made by Augusta's Castleberry Food Company is expanding drastically, by almost 800 percent.

Castleberry's voluntary recall just went from 10 products to 90; including everything from chili, to beef stew, even dog food.

Health officials say the food was likely undercooked causing a big risk of botulism, and now those same officials say the contaminant problem may have gone on longer then first thought.

"We are spending quite a bit of time around the clock trying to get the message out all consumers should pull these products and destroy the products." says the company's Senior VP, David Melbourne.

The new list released Saturday night includes 25 different brands of canned meat products such as chili, barbecue beef, and beef stew.

You can also add to that four types of canned dog food.

It's a recall that's unnerving for John Jackson who used to work at the plant. "I was very much surprised because i eat a lot of that myself."

Food safety officials say an equipment malfunction at the Augusta based Castleberry plant may be responsible for the contamination.

Four people, a couple from Indiana and two children in Texas were hospitalized with the muscle paralyzing disease Botulism after eating chili sauce from the plant.

The company says the malfunction occurred on only one line of production, but as food safety officials continued their investigation at the plant, they found evidence suggesting the malfunction went unchecked longer than first thought.

"We felt it was a prudent step to include any item that may have been included on that line of production." adds Melbourne.

"These food companies need to protect their food more, make sure their cans are clean." states Jackson.

The plant is now closed until further notice as the CDC, the FDA and the USDA continue their investigation.

In the meantime, all contaminated products should remain off the shelves and stores like North Augusta's Kroger are offering customers full refunds on the recalled products.

They're also labeling the cans so they don't find their way back onto the shelves and into your home.

But Jackson says it will be a long time before he eats his favorite chili again. "In fact I think they need to call of it back just to make sure."

When News 12 spoke with Castleberry's Consumer hotline on Sunday (July 22) we were told the phones have been ringing off the hook with concerned customers who fear they have eaten the contaminated food.

Symptoms of botulism include double or blurred vision, slurred speech and muscle weakness. The company is urging anyone who may have consumed the contaminated meat products to visit their local physician.

You can read the complete list of potentially contaminated products here.

You can also call Castleberry at 1-800-203-4412 or 1-888-203-8446 with any questions.

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