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Non-perishable food items?

By By Adam Prestridge
Do non-perishable food items actually live up to their classification?
Last week, millions of Americans began pondering that question as Castleberry's Food Company announced that it is voluntarily expanding its recall on canned food items originally announced on July 18.
Voluntary. You must be kidding.
The products in question pose the risk of botulinum toxin, a bacterium which can cause botulism. Botulism can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.
This recent recall is disturbing to many. Has demand for products such as Castleberry's products become so high that those producing the products have become reckless by putting consumers in danger? There were several cans of Castleberry products, including my favorite hotdog chili, in my cupboard that I have since thrown away. The key word being "were' since none remain in my cabinets and may never be purchased by me again.
Instead of offering food that has an extended shelf life, Castleberry's has put consumers at risk that may jeopardize their lives should the toxin infect them. That kind of risk and warnings from various agencies has prompted me to quickly boycott the company.
According to a release issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health, consumers are advised not to purchase or eat any of the recalled canned food products because of the risk of botulism poisoning. Environmental health staff at county health departments have begun checking to ensure that the contaminated products on Alabama store shelves have been removed from sale. Consumers should not purchase or eat any of the canned products included in the recall.
Consumers should not use these products even if they do not look or smell spoiled. Consumers with these products should dispose of them by double bagging in plastic bags that are tightly closed before being placed in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside of the home, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Additional instructions for safe disposal can be found at www.cdc.gov/botulism/botulism_faq.htm.
Castleberry's is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate possible contamination of these products. The FDA notified the company of two confirmed botulism cases and two potential botulism cases involving individuals who ate Hot Dog Chili Sauce products.
No new cases have been reported since the recall was announced on July 18.
Consumers with any questions should visit Castleberry's Web site (www.castleberrys.com). A toll-free hotline is also available for consumer questions at 1-800-203-4412 or 1-888-203-8446.
Adam Prestridge is publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123.