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Recalled sauce still being sold in state

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Some Alabama stores were still selling products included in a recall days after the alert was issued and inspectors are doing spot checks to make sure
the items are removed from shelves, officials said Thursday.

Castleberry's Food Co. issued the July 19 recall after its hot dog chili sauce was linked
to botulism that sickened
four people in Texas and Indiana.

The recall was later expanded to more than 90 potentially contaminated products, including chili sauces, hash and dog foods.

Mark Sestak, director of the state health department's Division of Food, Milk and Lodging, said inspectors were first sent out to Alabama retailers July 20 and they went out again Monday and Thursday.

"We have found some on the shelves ... but everybody seems to be pulling it pretty well," Sestak said, adding that contaminated products were found Monday and he was awaiting field reports from Thursday's inspections.

"The product is so widespread and so well distributed," he said. "But we're looking and the company itself has hired people to look, too."

Spot checks

Sestak said at least one inspector in each of the state's 67 counties has been assigned to do spot checks.

Lance Hester, who oversees 15 inspectors in the agriculture department's Food Safety Section, said most of the checked stores have removed the products, but "there were a few exceptions when they were still on the shelf."

Castleberry's closed its production facility in Augusta, Ga., after 16 cans of chili sauce tested positive for the bacteria that causes botulism.

The company also hired an outside firm to visit more
than 8,500 retailers around the country to remove products quickly.

Agriculture spokeswoman Christy Rhodes Kirk said inspectors there have been to about 100 stores a day since the recall began and the spot checks will be ongoing.

Gerry Totoritis, chairman of the Alabama Grocers Association, said products are usually removed from shelves within hours.

"Whenever we see a recall like that, it's a number one priority," he said. "The safety of the product is something that we as grocers take very seriously."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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