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.