WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans were warned by the federal government to immediately throw away more than 90 different products, from chili sauce to corned beef hash to dog food, produced at a plant linked to a botulism outbreak.
Castleberry's Food Co. temporarily closed the suspect plant.
''You're talking tens of millions of cans that may have been involved,'' Robert Brackett, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said Monday.
The company has hired an outside firm to visit more than 8,500 retailers around America in an effort to quickly get recalled products off store shelves.
So far, four cases of botulism have been reported. All four people consumed Hot Dog Chili Sauce Original, a product made by Castleberry's.
On Saturday, Castleberry's expanded its voluntary recall of canned meat products. It specified more than 80 types of canned chili, beef stew, corned beef hash and other meat products in addition to the 10 products it had recalled Thursday. The products were sold under a multitude of brand names.
Although Castleberry is recalling everything made on the one manufacturing line, the only products linked to illness thus far are the chili sauces.
Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by consuming foods with the botulinum toxin, a nerve toxin that can cause paralysis of the arms, breathing muscles and legs. Symptoms, such as blurred vision and slurred speech, generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food.
Typically, commercially canned foods are heated long enough and to high enough temperatures to kill the spores.
The number of people who have so far become ill from the botulism toxin pales compared to some recent food recalls in America.
For example, last year's U.S. outbreak of E. coli from baby spinach resulted in 205 confirmed illnesses and three deaths. More recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 60 persons, mostly toddlers, who became ill after eating a snack food that contained a strain of Salmonella. Five people were hospitalized after eating the product, called Veggie Booty.