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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Castleberry Might Be Sold Due To Botulism Recall

Tim Rausch wrote this morning that Castleberry’s Food Company might be sold – “Brand might be sold”

The Canadian investment fund that owns Castleberry’s Food Co. said it is considering selling the canned meat company, whose 400-employee Augusta plant was linked to a botulism scare last year. Toronto-based Connors Bros. Income Fund has started a "strategic" review of its meat product brands, which includes Castleberry’s and Sweet Sue. The fund’s Bumble Bee and Clover Leaf seafood brands are not part of the review.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum is the name of a group of bacteria commonly found in soil. It is an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming rod that produces a potent neurotoxin. These rod-shaped organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions. The bacteria form spores, which allow them to survive in a dormant state until exposed to conditions that can support their growth.

According to the CDC, as of August 24, 2007, eight cases of botulism have been reported 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.

We are investigating two illnesses likely linked to the Castleberry outbreak.  One of the cases is from Hawaii and the other is one of the counted cases from Ohio.

  • MARK

    RE: Westland/Hallmark Meat Co
    I hold you, Mr Secretary Ed Schafer and the USDA personally responsible for NOT monitoring this slaughter house and the inhumane treatment of animals we have witnessed and the processing of Downer Cows into the food supply of our Children. Myself along with millions of other Americans are Red meat eaters and are so because WE believe that these animals are treated with dignity and care when killed. You will have to do much better job than you have been to convince me now that the USDA, under your guard is capable of managing this industry wide problem. You have failed us.
    First: I want STEVE MENDELL, President of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co to be made an example to the others. Secondly: I want Westland/Hallmark Meat shut down for good. Thirdly, I want you, Mr Secretary, to show some true leadership and character by reforming all other Slaughterhouse practices in America. You are about to become the “Poster Child” for animal abuse across the country! why” Because you have known about this problem since 2006. May I remind you, a 2006 audit by your USDA inspector general found downer cows were still being processed for food and that USDA’s policy was inconsistent. At two of 12 plants visited from June 2004 to April 2005, downer cattle were slaughtered for food. One facility processed 27 of them, the other slaughtered two. Do the math: A downer cow typically brings $250 to $300 at slaughter. Sending the same animal to a rendering plant costs the owner $20 to $50 per carcass. You have been swindled Mr. Secretary and your ineffectiveness has compromised the health and welfare of our children and our animals. Please don’t tell me that you cannot put a USDA employee at every slaughterhouse and food processing plant in America 24/7. Don’t tell me that you cannot effectively impose and enforce fines and penalties. I am confident that you and your commitment to your career and legacy will find a way since your name and reputation is clearly on the radar of Americans now.
    If you really truly believe in your final purpose in life, you need to turn this around an become a champion for animal rights reform and safety! This entire problem is now on your head! Solve this problem for the rest of your time, for our children and for the dignity of all animals!
    I would strongly consider your next actions, Mr. Secretary or consider resigning before the American public forces you to in disgrace.

  • Castleberry’s Botulism Lawsuit Filed – Illnesses reported in Indiana, Texas and Ohio

    Although I am down in the “Big Easy” at the GMA’s 2008 Food Claims and Litigation Conference, I still had the time to edit and file what appears to be the second lawsuit against Castleberry’s for producing Botulism contaminated …