Two Hawaii men have sought medical treatment after eating canned chili products contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism. Both men purchased Cattle Drive brand canned chili at Costco in Kahului, Maui, and one was hospitalized with suspected botulism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is running tests to determine whether the men did, in fact, have botulism.
The Honolulu Advertiser reported on the first man’s illness on Saturday:
[Jon] Stockton said he bought an eight-pack of Cattle Drive canned chili at Costco in Kahului three weeks ago. That was before manufacturer Castleberry’s Food Co. of Augusta, Ga., and the federal Food and Drug Administration announced a voluntary product recall July 18 and an expanded recall last Saturday that included 88 canned meat products under various brand names and four varieties of canned dog food under the Natural Balance Eatables brand.
Stockton said he had heard about the recall but didn’t realize he had bought one of the suspect brands of chili.
"I heard something about Castleberry but never connected it to Cattle Drive chili. I thought it was a different company," he said.
The Sunday edition of the Advertiser included a follow-up story, after a second man had been sought medical treatment at an emergency room for botulism. The Advertiser by that time had reached a spokesperson for Costco, who provided an update on its involvement in the Castleberry’s recall.
Costco stores nationwide pulled the Castleberry’s products the same day the recall was announced, said Craig Wilson, the company’s assistant vice president for food safety in Kirkland, Wash.
"The building on Maui pulled it, and everything was done on time," he said yesterday.
He said Costco is assisting the the investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by tracking down Stockton’s purchase and has identified 250,000 others who bought the canned food that was the subject of the recall and sent letters to those customers advising them to discard the items.
The second man diagnosed with botulism, Keith Regan, expressed the same concerns as Jon Stockton in an article for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Consumers are not aware that Castleberry’s makes a number of brands of chili products, so were not aware that the products they had purchased were contaminated or were subject to recall.
On Friday, Keith Regan, 35, checked into the Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he was told that he has a mild case of botulism. He was released that afternoon.
"It’s kind of a shock," he said. "I just wish there’d been more warnings with the (food) labels that are familiar to us in Hawaii."
Regan, of Wailuku, last ate a can of Cattle Drive chili on July 20, a day before the chili maker, Castleberry’s Food Co., recalled more than 90 brands of chili, stew and other food products that could contain the poisonous bacteria.