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April 25 • 06:17 PM
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Food recall unsettles Imlay commmissioner


Ted Collom accidentally consumed product cited in cases of botulism



E_Food_recall
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Imlay City resident Ted Collom checks out the dates on the back of a can of Castleberry’s Hot Chili Sauce, a brand that has been linked to four recent cases of botulism. photo by Tom Wearing.
July 25, 2007
IMLAY CITY — City commissioner Ted Collom likes chili sauce on his hot dogs.

When he purchased a 10-ounce can of Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce at the Imlay City Save-On store this week, he anticipated the product would spice up his meal.

However, after devouring a few sauce-laden dogs Wednesday evening, he didn't expect that on Thursday morning he would hear the chili sauce was on a list of products associated with the first cases of botulism in canned foods in decades.

The botulism warning was issued Wednesday by federal health officials, but not in time for Collom to avoid eating the chili sauce. Instead, he spent much of the day on Thursday contacting health agencies and wondering if he had consumed any of the tainted product.

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According to Food and Drug Administration officials, four people (two adults and two children) became ill and were hospitalized after eating from 10-ounce cans of Castleberry's, Autex or Kroger brands of the sauce. Each of the contaminated cans included "best by" dates of April 30, 2009, through May 22, 2009—the same dates listed on the can Collom had purchased.

Although he hadn't exhibited any symptoms by Thursday afternoon, Collom decided to contact the Center for Disease Control for its assessment and advice.

"It was from the same batch and UPC code on the (warning) list," said Collom. "They told me to treat it as if it was contaminated and to take it back or throw it out."

The botulism victims— two each from Texas and Indiana—were reportedly seriously ill but expected to survive. The products were manufactured by Castle-berry's and owned by San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods LLC.

Dave Melbourne, a senior vice president of marketing for Castleberry, said the company conducted a recall of the entire product line as a precautionary measure.

Collom said he returned to the Sav-On store on Thursday to advise management of his purchase and to make sure they were aware of the product recall.

"They already knew about it and had informed their employees," he said. "I believe they had taken it off their shelves."

While Collom plans to refrain from eating any more of the product until it is deemed safe again, he admitted his Wednesday evening meal was flavorful. So much so that he went back for seconds.

"It was good. I was wondering why (wife) Marie let me eat it all," he joked light-heartedly. "Now I think I know."

The CDC reports that symptoms of botulism include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness.

Collom said he was informed by the CDC that proper cooking procedures will generally eliminate the chance of becoming sick.

"As long as you follow the cooking and heating instructions, it's usually enough to kill the botulism," he said. "I just hope nobody else gets this."

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