Castleberry's plant shuts down

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Castleberry's plant in Augusta has closed for at least a week after the FDA added 80 products to its recall list. Four people who ate the brand's hot dog chili were sickened by botulism.

In what could be one of the largest food recalls in months, Castleberry's Food Co. has halted production at its Augusta plant as federal officials warn consumers to throw out any of the more than seven-dozen products connected with a botulism outbreak.

The recall includes everything made on the same production line as the company's hot dog chili, which has tested positive for botulism and is suspected of sickening four people - two in Indiana and two in Texas - all of whom consumed the chili.

Castleberry's produces a number of products on the production line in question, including beef hash, barbecue pork and dog food.

The plant's more than 400 employees have been told that the shutdown will last at least a week and that they will be paid under the unemployment provisions of their union contracts, Castleberry's Senior Vice President Dave Melbourne said Monday.

The plant closed Saturday night, the same day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - both of which oversee the plant - expanded the initial recall from 10 products to 90.

The new recall stretches back two years and could include tens of millions of cans, Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a separate conference call Monday.

While the hot dog chili is the only product to test positive for botulism, Mr. Melbourne said, the company is voluntarily shutting the plant down and recalling everything from that product line to be safe.

He said the FDA has not officially confirmed that the plant is responsible for the poisonings. He said the plant will remain closed until officials agree it is safe.

"We're making the assumption that the linkage is there, but I can't confirm ... until we get the results from the FDA," he said.

Sixteen of 17 cans of hot dog chili tested positive when the FDA conducted a targeted test at Castleberry's production line between April 30 and May 22.

Those 17 cans came from the same production period - May 7-8 - that the hot dog chili suspected of sickening the four people was made, said Dr. Kenneth Peterson, assistant administrator for field operations with the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Castleberry's has hired a company to search more than 8,500 retailers for recalled product. Federal regulators also said they will send people to alert retailers and check store shelves for the recalled products.

Mr. Melbourne said it's too soon to tell the financial cost of the recall.

Botulism poisoning symptoms usually appear about 18 to 36 hours after contaminated food is consumed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they can show up as early as six hours and as late as 10 weeks.

Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness. It can paralyze muscles used to breathe, causing death.

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

The Food and Drug Administration expanded its initial recall of 10 Castleberry's products to 90 on Saturday. Cans should be disposed of in double bags.

- Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Austex Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Kroger Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Morton House Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Cattle Drive Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Southern Home Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Meijer Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Barbecue Pork, 10-ounce cans

- Bunker Hill Chili No Beans, 10-ounce cans

- Austex Beef Stew, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Austex Onion Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce

- Austex Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce

- Austex Chili with Beans, 15 and 19-ounce cans

- Austex Chili No Beans, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Austex Chili No Beans, 12-pack of 19-ounce cans

- Best Yet Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Best Yet Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Big Y Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Big Y Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Big Y Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Black Rock Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Bloom Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce

- Bryan Corned Beef Hash, 24-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Bryan Chili No Beans, 24-pack of 10-ounce cans

- Bryan Chili No Beans, 24-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Bryan Chili with Beans, 24-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Bunker Hill Chili No Beans, 10-ounce cans

- Bunker Hill Chunky Chili No Beans, 10-ounce cans

- Bunker Hill Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Chili No Beans, 10-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Beef Stew, 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Brunswick Stew, 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Bunker Hill Original Chili No Beans, 10-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Chili No Beans, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Hickory Smoked, Oven Roasted, with Skins, Barbecue Pork in Barbecue Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Hot Chili with Beans, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Onion Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Castleberry's BBQ Pork, 10- and 14.5-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Sausage Gravy, 10-ounce cans

- Castleberry's Chip Beef Gravy, 10-ounce cans

- Cattle Drive Beef Stew, 15-ounce cans

- Cattle Drive Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Cattle Drive Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Cattle Drive Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Cattle Drive Chili with Beans, 8-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Cattle Drive Chicken Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Firefighter Chicken Chili, 15-ounce cans

- Firefighter Chicken Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Firefighter Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Firefighter Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Food Club Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Food Club Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Food Lion Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Georgia Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Goldstar Chili, 10- and 15-ounce cans

- Goldstar Tex Mex Chili, 15-ounce cans

- Great Value Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans (Canada only)

- Great Value Hot Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans (Canada only)

- Kroger Beef Stew, 15-ounce cans

- Kroger Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Kroger Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Kroger Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce cans

- Lowes Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Lowes Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Lowes Corn Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Meijer Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Meijer Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Meijer Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Meijer Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce

- Morton House Chili with Beans, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Morton House Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Paramount Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10- and 15-ounce cans

- Paramount Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Paramount Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Piggly Wiggly Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Piggly Wiggly Chili No Beans, 10- and 15-ounce cans

- Piggly Wiggly Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Prudence Corned Beef Hash, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Southern Home Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Southern Home Chili No Beans, 10- and 15-ounce cans

- Southern Home Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Steak N Shake Chili, 10-ounce cans

- Thrifty Maid Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Thrifty Maid Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce cans

- Thrifty Maid Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce

- Triple Bar Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Triple Bar Chili with Beans, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Triple Bar Chili No Beans, 15-ounce cans

- Triple Bar Chili No Beans, 12-pack of 15-ounce cans

- Value Time Chili with Beans, 15-ounce cans

Four varieties of Natural Balance Eatables dog food:

- Irish Stew with Beef, 15-ounce

- Chinese Take Out with Sauce with Vegetables and Chicken, 15-ounce

- Southern Style Dumplings with Gravy with Chicken and Vegetables, 15-ounce

- Hobo Chili with Chicken, 15-ounce


LEARN MORE

For a refund or more information, Dave Melbourne, the senior vice president of Castleberry's Food Co., said consumers should go to www.castle berrys.com or call Castleberry's consumer hot line at (888) 203-8446.