Food recall at Castleberry in Augusta
The Castleberry plant in Augusta has been a fixture in the town, one its larger employers, and one of the largest meat processing plants in the country. In 1926 they began in a canning operation in a shed on 15th Street and today's modern factory remains at the same address, although the building is quite different.
In July, 2007, two children in Texas and an Indiana couple who ate Castleberry products became seriously ill and were hospitalized with botulism. U.S. officials found a partially eaten container of Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili in the couple's garbage and found it contaminated with botulism. According to the Food and Drug Administration, "...an outbreak of botulism due to a commercially canned food is extremely rare." This was the first such case in the United States in more than thirty years.
Castleberry issued its initial voluntary recall on July 18 including hot dog chili sauce and canned meat products. That was expanded three days later to include more than 80 types of stew, chili, hash and other products as well as pet food sold under a variety of brand names The factory closed on July 21 until the problem was corrected. Operating under a Temporary Emergency Operating Permit the factory reopened in September 2007, although the contaminated production line was not used. On March 7, 2008 the FDA revoked the Temporary Emergency Operating Permit and the company once again closed its doors for a month.
In spite of attempts to increase sales in its popular Hot Dog Chili the scare kept consumers away. In September, 2008 the name and equipment were sold to Hanover Foods, which immediately announced the closing of the Augusta, Georgia plant.
Symptoms of botulism poisoning can begin from 6 hours to 2 weeks after eating food that contains the toxin. Symptoms may include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness that moves progressively down the body, affecting the shoulders first then descending to the upper arms, lower arms, thighs, calves, etc. Botulism poisoning can also cause paralysis of the breathing muscles which can result in death unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided.