For Immediate Release
January 23, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461


Food Service Workers and Consumers Urged to Check Pantries for Recalled Beans

Food safety and public health officials with the Kansas Departments 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.

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 Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) contamination to include 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 a half pounds.

C. botulinum can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. 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 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.

For specific brands and codes of green beans and garbanzo beans that are subject to this recall, consumers and retailers should visit the FDA website at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/newera.html.

New Era produces canned products under other 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 or absence of a 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.

Any food that may contain the recalled canned beans should be disposed of carefully. Even tiny amounts of the C. 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 disposal may be found at www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/botulism/. Anyone with questions may call FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.