Concern about possible botulism poisoning has prompted New Era Canning Company, New Era, Mich., to expand its product recall to all canned green beans and garbanzo beans distributed by the company nationwide over the last five years.
Clostridium botulinum, also called C. botulinum, can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. The affected cans are large institutional-sized containers, weighing approximately six and a half pounds.
The Food and Drug Administration initiated the inspection at New Era, along with inspections of other low-acid canned food (LACF) manufacturers, following four cases of botulism in consumers who had eaten canned hot dog chili sauce in the summer of 2007.
Symptoms of botulism poisoning in can begin from 6 hours to 2 weeks after eating food that contains the toxin. Symptoms may include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness that moves progressively down the body, affecting the shoulders first, then descending to the upper arms, lower arms, thighs, and calves.
Botulism poisoning also can cause paralysis of the breathing muscles, which can result in death unless assistance with breathing through mechanical ventilation is provided.
Individuals who have these symptoms and who may have recently eaten the products under recall or other food products made with them should seek immediate medical attention.
To date, no illnesses have been reported to the FDA; however, consumers should not eat these products, even if they appear to be normal, because of the potential serious risk to health. Consumers who have the affected products or who have used them in recipes should immediately throw the cans and food away.
New Era is taking immediate action to retrieve all inventories of the products throughout the distribution chain, including consumers' homes, nursing homes, schools, warehouses, restaurants, retail stores, health care facilities, and other facilities.
New Era produces canned products under other brand names and labels. Therefore, the recalled products may not necessarily be labeled with New Era's name. Also, the cans may bear a variety of product codes or no codes at all.
Regardless of brand name or label, or the presence or absence of a code, the recalled cans should not be opened or used, and should be disposed of as described below. Consumers who are not sure if a product is subject to the recall should still throw it out as a precaution.
Any food that may contain the recalled canned beans should be disposed of carefully. Even tiny amounts of the C. botulinum toxin can cause serious illness when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the eye or a break in the skin. Skin contact should be avoided as much as possible, and hands should be washed immediately after handling the food.
When disposing of these products, double-bag the cans in plastic bags. Make sure the bags are tightly closed, then place in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside of the home.
Restaurants and institutions should ensure that such products are only placed in locked receptacles that are not accessible to the public. Anyone with questions may call FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.