Cans of recalled food are bursting, swollen with the bacteria that causes botulism.
The bursting cans were among those being held by Castleberry’s Food Co., which announced last week a massive recall that now includes more than 90 potentially contaminated products, including chili sauces and dog foods.
News about the bursting cans gives new urgency to warnings from federal health officials to get rid of the recalled cans from pantries and store shelves.
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.
Food and Drug Administration investigators believe the company failed to properly cook some or all the products, allowing the Clostridium botulinium 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 bacteria thrive in moist, oxygen-free environments; inside canned food is a perfect place.
As the bacteria grow and reproduce, they produce gases that can cause contaminated cans to swell and burst. Health officials warn the extremely potent toxin can infect people if it is inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the eye or breaks in the skin.
“The longer this stuff stays in the can, the worse it gets,” Acheson said.
Spot checks by the FDA and state officials continue to turn up recalled products in stores.
These cans are literally bursting with botulism. How do we know it’s not an al Qaeda threat? The danger isn’t just diarrhea. And cans remain on the store shelves!