Castleberry's restarts today

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The Castleberry's Food Co. recall saga might finally be winding down.

Cars fill a parking lot of the Casteberry's plant on 15th Street, where about 425 employees have been called back to work. Botulism contamination caused the plant to close.  Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Cars fill a parking lot of the Casteberry's plant on 15th Street, where about 425 employees have been called back to work. Botulism contamination caused the plant to close.

The Augusta plant is scheduled to go back online today, according to a company statement, almost two months after botulism contamination caused a $35 million recall and shut down the 15th Street plant.

The company said as recently as last week that the plant would reopen in October. But Dave Melbourne, Castleberry's senior vice president, wrote in an e-mail that the goal was to open as early as possible and that work between staff and regulatory agencies helped them open sooner.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture last week gave Castleberry's the green light to reopen.

The company said in a statement that it "made modifications to operating procedures in order to strengthen them," but refused to specify what changes were made.

About 425 employees have been called back to work, and Mr. Melbourne said production will resume on four of the six production lines.

Castleberry's officials declined to say which products would be produced initially.

Mr. Melbourne also confirmed that faulty equipment on one of the production lines caused some of its hot dog chili made in early May to be underprocessed, causing the botulism contamination.

The line responsible for the underprocessed chili remains closed and it will be several months before the plant is at full production.

The recall is still in effect for the more than 90 products Castleberry's pulled from store shelves in July after its hot dog chili was linked to botulism poisoning.

Eight people were sickened by the chili in Ohio, Texas and Indiana, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The shutdown cost 31 full-time employees their jobs. Eighty temporary workers weren't asked to return.

Reach Laura Youngs at (706) 823-3227 or laura.youngs@augustachronicle.com.

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L. DeGutes
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L. DeGutes 09/18/07 - 08:38 am
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I'm glad to hear that the

I'm glad to hear that the plant is opening back up. I live in NWGA, and as a former Augusta resident, we have missed the Castleberry brand very much.

Jen2803
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Jen2803 09/18/07 - 10:29 am
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I never really bought

I never really bought Castleberry and now since all this has happened I won't ever buy it. I don't care if they go out of business I will not buy something that will make me or my family sick!!!!! We need to go back to all natural foods anyway. We need to grow our own food when people did that years ago you never heard of all this sickness. We need to stop feeded steroids and things to our cows, chickens and pigs so we don't have problems with that either. Something needs to be done about this. I'm tired of hearing of people falling dead because of something that someone else did to our food supply.

toppergem
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toppergem 09/18/07 - 01:55 pm
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Glad to hear the plant is

Glad to hear the plant is reopening. Thank goodness Castleberry Company is committed to Augusta and its citizens.

420Time
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420Time 09/18/07 - 03:34 pm
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Who eats Castleberry's food?

Who eats Castleberry's food? I used to work for a trucking company and when a shipment was picked up from Castleberries, the cans would sit in the trailer on their yard for hours in the hot sun. The interior of the trailer would be over 175degrees.

YUCK!

iletuknow
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iletuknow 09/18/07 - 08:20 pm
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Glorified dog food.

Glorified dog food.

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