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DHS news release

July 27, 2007

General contact: Tom Towslee, 971-673-0396

Technical contact: Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist, 971-673-0982

Obtenga más información acerca del Botulismo de los centros para el control y la prevención de las enfermedades.

Consumers urged to check cupboards for recalled foods


Oregon state health officials today urged consumers to check their cupboards for any of 90 different canned food items recalled in the wake of four U.S. botulism cases. Two people in Texas and two in Indiana — were hospitalized recently after eating a chili sauce manufactured by Castleberry's in Augusta, Georgia.

"Although no Oregon cases have been identified, we would encourage people to check the canned food in their houses," said Susan Allan, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., state public health director in the Oregon Department of Human Services. "Botulism can be very serious, resulting in hospitalization for weeks or months, and sometimes death."

The botulism was traced to one of Castleberry's production lines, leading to the expanded recall of any food processed on that line. These include canned chili and chili sauces, stews, hash, corned beef and other items sold under several brand names, as well as Natural Choice brand dog food. 


State and federal agencies are working with grocers, food banks and other food distributors to ensure that all recalled products are pulled from their shelves.


"We have two concerns," Allan said. "One is that smaller businesses may not be aware of the recall and may still have inventory on hand. The second is that many of the people who have already purchased these products may not hear about the recall and may open these cans later."


Allan advises consumers to double-check their canned food storage to make sure none of the recalled items are on their shelves. "We’re also asking their help in getting the word out to family or friends that may not be aware of the news reports," she said.


Recalled products should immediately be discarded or returned to the store where they were purchased.


Foodborne botulism in the U.S. is now quite rare, with most cases outside of Alaska traced to improperly home-canned foods. This is the first time U.S. botulism cases have been traced to commercial canning defects since 1971. Oregon has recorded only eight cases of foodborne botulism since 1992.


Swallowing even tiny traces of botulinum toxin can be lethal, which is why any questionable canned food should not be opened. Symptoms of botulism include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness. If untreated, the illness may progress to include paralysis of the face, arms, breathing muscles, trunk and legs. Symptoms usually begin within one to three days of consuming contaminated food, although the effect is sometimes delayed. People who develop any of these symptoms should contact a physician immediately.


For Spanish-language information on botulism from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, go to: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/botulism/espanol/