THURSDAY, July 19, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Federal health officials warned consumers late Wednesday night that some canned hot dog chili sauce may be contaminated with a potentially deadly botulism toxin.
The warning applies to 10-ounce cans of Castleberry's, Austex and Kroger brands of hot dog chili sauce with "best by" dates from April 30, 2009, through May 22, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a prepared statement.
It wasn't immediately clear how widely the products were distributed, the Associated Press reported.
The contamination by the toxin is extremely rare for a commercially canned product, according to Dr. Michael Lynch, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical epidemiologist. The last such U.S. case was back in the 1970s.
Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, urged consumers to discard any of the recalled chili sauce cans without opening them.
"The toxin is so potent, if they get it on their hands or it sprays in their face, it could make them ill," he said.
So far, four people have been hospitalized. The victims -- two young siblings in Texas and an adult couple in Indiana -- were seriously ill but expected to survive, the AP reported.
The products were made at a plant in Augusta, Ga., by the Castleberry's Food Co., which is owned by Bumble Bee Seafoods.
The company is voluntarily recalling all potentially contaminated products and is cooperating with state and federal officials, Brackett said.
Botulism is a muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, according to the CDC. Symptoms of botulism include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness that moves down the body.
The recall covers the following universal product codes:
- Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce can (UPC 3030000101)
- Austex Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce can (UPC 3030099533)
- Kroger Hot Dog Chili Sauce, 10-ounce can (UPC 1111083942)
- Morton House Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce can (UPC 7526665830)
- Cattle Drive Chili With Beans, 15-ounce can (UPC 3030001515)
- Southern Home Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce can (UPC 0788015360)
- Meijer Corned Beef Hash, 15-ounce can (UPC 4125095229)
- Castleberry's Chili With Beans, 15-ounce can (UPC 3030001015)
- Castleberry's Barbecue Pork, 10-ounce can (UPC 3030000402)
- Bunker Hill Chili No Beans, 10-ounce can (UPC 7526604112)
Consumer questions can be addressed to the FDA by calling 1-888-SAFEFOOD.
The last case of reported botulism in the United States occurred in September 2006, when certain lots of Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice were linked to four cases of botulism.
The botulism cases were linked to poor refrigeration of the product once consumers brought it home. Carrot juice, even if pasteurized, should always be refrigerated until use, the FDA said.
In April, U.S. health officials warned that imported Italian olives made by Charlie Brown di Rutigliano and Figli S.r.l, of Bari, Italy, may contain botulism. The olives were initially recalled by the manufacturer on March 27, after they had been distributed in the United States to both restaurants and retail stores.