Michigan’s troubled New Era Canning Company was forced on Friday night to expand its botulism recall to all canned green beans and garbanzo beans distributed by the company nationwide over the last five years.

That could be a great deal of product.  According to the company’s website:

  • New Era Canning now processes over 100 million pounds of produce annually for the private label industry.
  • New Era’s customers’ products are on the shelves from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Great Lakes to the Deep South.

However, New Era began recalling some of its various bean products and labels beginning last Dec. 21.   Its addition of No. 10 cans of green beans and garbanzo beans to its now month-old recall list came in at about 8 pm, Friday. 

But exactly one hour later,  the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)  announced the much expanded recall.  Here’s what it said about the investigation:

FDA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture launched a joint investigation of New Era’s processing plant. This investigation resulted in the identification of C. botulinum contamination in several lots of canned green beans and one lot of garbanzo beans, the identification of serious food violations, and this expanded recall.

The FDA’s complete release can be found here.   A few more highlights:

  • 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
  • To date, no illnesses have been reported to the FDA; however, consumers should not consume 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 took this voluntary action in the interest of public health in accordance with FDA’s recall request. The company 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.

FDA is also keeping track of New Era’s whole bout with botulism on a separate website that can be found here.

Less we forget, FDA reminds us how serious botulism can be:

  • Clostridium botulinum bacterium spores have the potential for growth that produces a toxin that causes a potentially fatal form of food poisoning – botulism.  Symptoms of botulism poisoning in humans 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 (mechanical ventilation) is provided.
  • Individuals who have these symptoms and who may have recently eaten the green beans or garbanzo beans currently under recall or other food products made with these items should seek immediate medical attention.