Important to Heed Warning Presented by Botulism Recall
Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal
July 24, 2007
News of the government’s latest mega-recall should not fall on deaf ears. Botulism is an extremely potent nerve toxin that can cause paralysis and death, and the pathogen may be present in tens of million of cans of products on store and consumer shelves.
CSPI strongly urges all consumers to check their cupboards for any of the various Castleberry’s chili, stew, hash products and dog foods subject to the massive recall underway, and discard them. Some of these foods bear a variety of brand names, including various supermarket labels, including Austex, Big Y, Kroger’s, Piggly Wiggly, and others. Specific brands and products are listed on the web sites of the Food and Drug Administration and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Consumers should not have to rely on voluntary recalls to respond to a botulism problem. Proper processing will provide a 100 percent guarantee that this pathogen doesn’t occur in canned foods. This is the kind of hazard that a modernized, well-funded food safety system should not allow to slip through.
It’s worth noting that the canned goods that are being recalled now are foods that fall squarely in the middle of our two food safety agencies' regulatory authority. Does it make sense that USDA-regulated plants are inspected daily, and FDA-inspected facilities are looked at rarely? Does it really make sense to have one cabinet secretary in charge of chili with beans and another cabinet secretary in charge of chili with meat? Members of Congress should realize that as serious as the problems originating with Chinese imports are, our own food safety system has serious gaps that urgently need closing.