Recalled Castleberry Products Still in Stores: FDA

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Recalled Castleberry Products Still in Stores: FDA

WASHINGTON -- Some of the country's smaller family-run grocers, convenience stores, and gas stations last week still had on their shelves products made by Castleberry’s Food Co. that were recalled on July 18, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Associated Press said Friday that the FDA found recalled products for sale in roughly 250 of the more than 3,700 stores it visited in nationwide checks. Spot checks confirmed that officials in Florida, Kentucky, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Indiana, and elsewhere are finding recalled products in stores, especially smaller, mom-and-pop operations.

FDA announced a nationwide recall of certain canned human food and dog food products manufactured by Castleberry Food Company of Augusta, Georgia on July 18, 2007, and expanded it on July 21, because the products might contain hazardous botulinum toxin.

On July 25, the FDA issued a message to retailers nationwide calling on them to “respond immediately to remove and secure recalled products, making sure that all recalled products are not inadvertently made available for purchase, salvage or donation and therefore preventing any possibility for human or animal consumption.”

The FDA said that cans of recalled food are bursting, swollen with bacteria that cause botulism, and that they will become worse the longer the bacteria is in the cans.

Castleberry's Food Co.’s massive recall that now includes more than 90 potentially contaminated products, including chili sauces and dog foods. At least four people have been sickened and hospitalized by the contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FDA investigators have said they suspected the manufacturer failed to properly cook some or all the products, allowing the Clostridium botulinum bacteria to survive the canning process.

The bacteria produce a toxin that causes botulism, a muscle-paralyzing disease.

"We're not talking here about a bug that lands you in the bathroom for a few days with diarrhea. We're talking about a toxin that puts you in the intensive care unit," said Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's lead food safety expert. "This is foodborne illness with an extra kick in it, big time."

As the bacteria grow and reproduce, they produce gases that can cause contaminated cans to swell and burst. Health officials say the extremely potent toxin can infect people if it is inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the eye or breaks in the skin.

Castleberry's has hired a company to collect the recalled products from stores. It has posted a complete list of the recalled products, including some dog foods, on its Web site,