Health officials urge all to check for beans recalled for botulism

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Food service workers and consumers are urged to check pantries for recalled beans.

According to information provided by the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department, food safety and public health officials with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and Health and Environment are urging consumers and institutional and retail food service workers to check their pantries for large cans of beans that have been recalled due to botulism concerns. Botulism is a food-borne illness caused by toxins produced by the anaerobic bacterium, Clostridium botulinum.

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that New Era Canning Company, New Era Mich. expanded its product recall because of potential Clostidiuim botulinum contamination. The expansion includes all canned green beans and garbanzo beans distributed by the company nationwide over the last five years. The affected cans are large institutional-sized containers that weigh about six and one-half pounds, the statement said.

Clostridium botulinum cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Symptoms of botulism poisoning in humans can begin from six hours to two 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. As it moves down the body it affects 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 is provided by mechanical ventilation. Individuals who have these symptoms and who may have recently eaten the products under recall or other food products made with them should seek immediate medical attention.

To date, no illnesses have been reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. However, consumers who have affected products or who have used them in recipes, should immediately throw the cans and food away.

New Era is working 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. Consumers and retailers should visit the FDA Web site at for more information about specific brands and codes of green beans and garbanzo beans that are subject to this recall.

New Era produces canned products under brand names and labels, so recalled products may not be labeled with New Era's name. Also, cans may bear a variety of product codes or no codes at all. Regardless of brand name or label or the presence of the absence of the code, the recalled cans should not be opened or used and should be disposed of as described below. Consumers who are not sure if a product is subject to the recall should still throw it out as a precaution.

The information said any food that may contain the recalled canned beans should be disposed of carefully. Even tiny amounts of the Clostridium botulinum toxin can cause serious illness when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the eye or a break in the skin. Skin contact should be avoided as much as possible and hands should be washed immediately after handling the food.

When disposing of these products, double-bag the cans in plastic bags. Make sure the bags are tightly closed, then place in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside of the home. Restaurants and institutions should ensure that such products are only placed in locked receptacles that are not accessible to the public. Additional instructions for safe deposal may be found at Anyone with questions may call the FDA at (888) 463-6332.