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Clostridium botulinum

Botulism Associated with Canned Chili Sauce, July-August 2007

Information updated as of August 24, 2007

Advice to Consumers

Public health officials in Indiana, Texas, Ohio, and at CDC are investigating an outbreak of botulism associated with canned hot dog chili sauce manufactured by Castleberry's Food Company. Foodborne botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by consuming foods that contain botulinum toxin, a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

Due to possible contamination with botulinum toxin, CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) are advising persons not to eat certain canned food products manufactured by Castleberry's Food Company. These include certain Castleberry's brands as well as products distributed under other brand names. The recall includes some canned dog food. A listing of the recalled products can be found at the following websites:

Other foods that should be discarded are those recalled products with missing or unreadable "best by" dates; foods that may have been prepared with a recalled product; and canned chili sauce, chili, beef stew, hash, corned beef hash, barbecue pork, barbecue beef, chip beef, Brunswick stew, sausage gravy or canned dog food if the brand is not known.

As of August 24, 2007, eight cases of botulism have been reported to CDC from Indiana (2 cases), Texas (3 cases), and Ohio (3 cases). The illness onset dates range from June 29 to August 7, 2007. All eight persons were reported to have consumed hot dog chili sauce made by Castleberry's Food Company. The two cases in Indiana occurred in two persons who shared a meal that included Castleberry's hot dog chili sauce the day before illness onset. Botulinum toxin was identified in both patients' sera and leftovers containing hot dog chili sauce collected from the patients' refrigerator. The three cases in Texas occurred in two siblings and their mother, who shared a meal containing Castleberry's hot dog chili sauce the day before the siblings became ill. The three Ohio cases occurred in unrelated persons who consumed Castleberry's hot dog chili sauce in the week before illness onset. One person reported consuming the chili sauce in early August, after the product was recalled. Botulinum toxin was identified in leftover chili sauce collected from this patient's refrigerator.

CDC OutbreakNet (the network of epidemiologists and other public health officials who investigate outbreaks of foodborne, waterborne, and other enteric illnesses nationwide) staff shared the initial investigation findings with colleagues at the FDA. After being informed about the outbreak by the FDA, the company that manufactures the Castleberry's brand hot dog chili sauce and other products issued a voluntary recall on July 18, 2007. The recall was expanded on July 21.

Persons with signs or symptoms of botulism who have eaten hot dog chili sauce or any of the other recalled products manufactured by Castleberry's Food Company are advised to immediately contact their health care provider. These include new onset of double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, or muscle weakness. If untreated, the illness may progress from head to toe, with paralysis of the face, arms, breathing muscles, trunk, and legs. Symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days. Health care providers evaluating persons with signs of botulism should contact their State health department immediately. CDC provides 24/7 consultation on botulism to State health departments and releases antitoxin for treatment.

Advice to Consumers

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Page last modified: August 24, 2007
Content Source: National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases (ZVED)