Cans Infected With Botulism Are Exploding!

Remember the botulism recall? The infected cans are now exploding, according to the FDA.

Why is this bad? Well, you can contract botulism from breathing the spores.

From the Boston Globe:

Spot checks by the Food and Drug Administration and state officials are turning up recalled products for sale in convenience stores, gas stations and family-run groceries.

The FDA has found recalled products for sale in roughly 250 of the more than 3,700 stores visited in nationwide checks, according to figures the agency provided to The Associated Press.

Four people have been sickened and hospitalized by the contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recall covers potentially tens of millions of cans of food; officials fear the tally will grow.

FDA investigators believe Castleberry Food failed to properly cook some or all the products, allowing the Clostridium botulinum bacteria to survive the canning process.

The bacteria produce a toxin that causes botulism, a muscle-paralyzing disease.

“We’re not talking here about a bug that lands you in the bathroom for a few days with diarrhea. We’re talking about a toxin that puts you in the intensive care unit,” said Dr. David Acheson, the FDA’s lead food safety expert. “This is foodborne illness with an extra kick in it, big time.”

The fact that cans filled with botulism are still on the shelf waiting to explode is not good. Quite a lot of food is affected, so you’ll need to check the recall site to determine if you have any of it at home.

Here’s what you can do:

1) If you have any of the recalled products at home, double bag them and throw them away. If they explode, you could inhale botulism. You do not want this.

2) If you see any of the recalled products, please inform the store about the recall.

They’re having trouble getting the word out about this recall, so tell a friend about it ask them to check their cupboards.

Castleberry’s Recall Information
Botulism Disposal Instructions From The CDC
Bursting cans give new urgency to warnings about botulism [Boston Globe] (Thanks, everyone who sent this in!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mrmysterious says:

    Oh my God, this might be the most horrible thing I’ve ever read. Usually when a product is recalled you can just pitch it and it’s done. Hell, even if you save it for sentimental reasons you are fine. This takes it to a whole different level, basically creating a biological weapon in your pantry.

  2. gatopeligroso says:

    I like how they put the word “voluntary” in the front of recall as if though they are doing us a favor. These are your poison cans. Maybe we should “voluntarily” stop buying their products.

  3. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Let me be the first to say: AWESOME.

  4. The Bigger Unit says:

    Botulism: the reason I check cans for dents…not like OCD-like, but check ’em enough to avoid any major ones. I remember learning about can dents in school…they can cause botulism!

  5. Papercutninja says:

    So these cans are so SWOLLEN with botulism bacteria, that they are actually bursting the metal cans? Isn’t that some sort of sign of the apocalypse?

  6. teh says:

    @The Bigger Unit: I didn’t think dents caused botulism, but were one of the easiest ways to determine if a canned good was contaminated. As the bacteria grow, they produce carbon dioxide which increases the pressure inside the can and causes it to dent outward.

  7. Nytmare says:

    If your can is bulging … you may have botulism.

  8. The Bigger Unit says:

    @Teh: Ahhh, thanks for clarifying. I remember my teacher saying it in home-ec class many moons ago, so I guess it got twisted into “dents cause botulism” (in only some cases of course) over the years.

    Either way…I stay the hell away from big-time dented cans. That much has stuck with me.

  9. rishey says:

    Well, look on the bright side: At least the people who have botulism spores land on them won’t have wrinkles.

  10. juri squared says:

    Holy crap, I had no idea Meijer-branded products were included. Thanks, local media, for skipping over that!

  11. NeoteriX says:

    Whoever’s idea it was to weaponize canned goods should win an award or something.

  12. savvy9999 says:

    Wait, isn’t botulism toxin the same ingredient in botox injections?

    The Castleberry Company should spin this to their advantage– want a free facelift? Don’t throw that bulging can of chili away, put it in your pillow! Sleep easy, consumers, knowing that in the morning you’ll either look 20 years younger, or be dead.

    It’s a Sophie’s choice I’m sure many canned-meat afficianados would be glad to make.

  13. adrock75 says:

    Ok, I’ve been wondering this since this story broke: who the hell uses hot dog chili sauce?

  14. DadCooks says:

    Here is why a dented can is a problem…

    (1) All cans are coated on the inside to prevent the contents from eating away (corroding) the can and thus allowing air in, which leads to spoilage.

    (2) A dent can cause the coating to flake off, corrosion eats a pinhole in the can, air enters, and so do the nasties.

    (3) A dent in the right place can also cause the top, bottom, or side seams to fail. Again, air gets in and the contents spoil.

    There are similar problems with foods in a jar/bottle. If that metal lid is not dimpled in, do not buy or use it.

    “When in doubt, throw it out!”

  15. ThunderSaid says:

    Actually, I love hot dog chili sauce (on hotdogs, I’m not eating it with a spoon or anything). Although I readily admit it’s not the height of fine cuisine, it does remind me of chili dogs that you get at fairs and sporting events. Call it a guilty pleasure.

    One thing I think is funny is that the same meat managed to get into both chili and dog food. I guess that sheds an unfortunate light on the stuff I’ve been putting on my hot dogs.

  16. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @adrock75: It’s convenient for Super Bowl parties and other things where you don’t want to put too much effort into your cooking. Throw some shredded cheese on there and you’re good.

  17. Red_Eye says:

    One of the reasons this recall may not be gaining traction is distribution area. I know when we lived in California my poor Georgian wife couldn’t get her chili sauce from Georgia anywhere. Dunno how far and wide they distribute but if its only to 30% of the US then likely this recall wont get the press it needs.

  18. ikimashokie says:

    As much as I hate the people who try to act holier-than-thou and bash Walmart, I’m going to say the following, given their “history” with recalls:

    Clean-up on the canned meat aisle!

  19. Major-General says:

    Yep, that’s what expired/contaminated cans do.

  20. tinyrobot says:

    Some notes from your friendly neighborhood microbiologist:

    1) Clostridium botulinum is an obligate anaerobe – oxygen is über-toxic to these fellas, which is why they form spores, so they can survive until they reach an anoxic environment. So air entering cans will actuall shut them down metabolically – problem being they’ve already squirted out the toxin into the food product.

    2) The bacteria themselves are harmless. They toxins they produce and secrete are beyond lethal. And yes, botulinum toxin is the same thing as botox, and is also literally the most potent poison known to humankind. And people needle it into their armpits. What a wacky world.

    3) Dented cans just mean they got dropped, and while previous commenters are totally right about potentially leading to spoilage, it’s not a sure sign of C.b. – any cans that are intact and swollen are full of bugs, gas, and toxin.

    4) If these cans do “explode,” remember that there IS NOT a cloud of poison gas now floating in the pantry. Since the toxin and bacteria are in your chili or whathaveyou, it’s a glorp of poisonous goop, but it’s only harmful if it gets into you. Spores are only typically an inhalation threat when they’re airborne, which requires either them to be dried extensively (not the case if they’re soaking in chili) or aerosolized some how (don’t put the chili in a spray bottle and squirt it around). So if a can of chili pops and gloops all over your pantry, don’t evacuate the house, just check the CDC link above for spore cleanup/eradication/disposal.

    5) Remember, there is enough botox in honey to seriously harm infants and unvaccinated vegan babies. Just a fun fact.

  21. snowferret says:

    Dude… this just isn’t right…
    I was going to say they should give them to the army and use them as weapons but then I remembered that it would be a biological weapon and probably against many many treaties. Shit like that shouldn’t be on store shelves…