September 2008

We’ve been passing along information on how to safely can at home, and here comes a story on why you really do have to be careful.  The Mansfield News Journal reported this week that:

A Crestline man and his grandson remain in the hospital after coming down with food-bourne botulism last weekend.

Nortbert Reinhard is listed in critical condition at MedCentral/Mansfield Hospital and grandson Lucas Palm is in serious condition at Akron Children’s Hospital after eating home-canned green beans. Lucas’ sisters Jessica and Samantha Palm also were treated for botulism and have been released from Akron Children’s.

Stephanie Zmuda, Environmental Health Director at the Galion City Health Department, said after 10 years in the field, this is the first time she’s dealt with such cases of contamination.

“Botulism is a type of food poisoning and is the most dangerous,” she said. “Six organisms is the infectious dose, so just a little bit of this germ can get you sick. You do not have to have a whole serving of the food to get sick.”

For more, go here.

The Connors Brothers Income Fund has dumped (oh, sold) its Castleberry brands to Hanover Foods Corp. It means the 82-year old Castleberry canning factory in Augusta, GA will be closed with the next 60 days.

The troubled canning factory was responsible for a botulism outbreak in late 2007. The 20-acre factory site is also on the block. The sale to Hanover will shift production of any Castleberry brands to the company’s Aunt Kitty’s Foods plant in scenic New Jersey.

Closure of the Castleberry’s canning factory will put 327 people out of work, according to the Augusta Chronicle.   And its not a good time to be hitting the bricks.  The newspaper said:

As Donte Jones walked through the Augusta plant’s gates after completing his shift Tuesday, the 21-year-old temporary worker said he was told of the closing just before 7 p.m.

"I’m just hoping they’ll call me back tomorrow," said Mr. Jones, a loader for the company.

Having lived across the street from the plant since 1959, Mary Clayton said the closing would be catastrophic for the entire community.

"These are not good times for people to be out of work," the retired Fort Gordon employee said. "I really hate for this to happen."

Castleberry’s Toronto-based owner spent the past seven months investigating a sale of its meat division, prompted by a loss of $38 million when the plant shut down for two months in 2007 when botulism toxin was found in its chili sauce.

For more, go here.

Mistakes commonly made when pressure canning include:

  • Taking “short cuts.” Recommended preparation and processing instructions should always be followed.
  • Using jars not specifically designed for home canning. Commercial glass jars with screw-on lids should not be used when canning.
  • Using outdated canning books or instructions. Updated (within the past 10 years) canning books and instructions should be used.
  • Using untested recipes. Canning recipes should always be sought from a reliable source such as your local extension office


For more, go here.   Thanks to Extension Service, USDA.