About Botulism

From the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism and other foodborne illness outbreaks.

About Botulism Blog

Washington man dies of botulism from home-canned food

This past weekend, a Grays Harbor County man aged 55-65 passed away from a probable cause of botulism. No further information on the deceased is available. Confirmation of the cause of death is pending confirmatory test results.

Grays Harbor County Environmental Health assisted the property owner with the safe disposal of around 170 pint-sized jars of home-canned food and canning jars per CDC guidelines.

Botulism is odorless and cannot be seen or tasted; however, even a small taste of food containing the toxin can be deadly, according to the CDC.

The CDC stresses that home canning, while a fun and productive way to preserve everything from seafood to vegetables, can put people at risk of botulism if not done correctly.

Using proper canning techniques, the right kind of equipment, and disposing of any canned foods that may not have been properly preserved is the best way to keep your home canned goods safe.

Two excellent resources for safe canning practices include the CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/home-canning-and-botulism.html – and Washington State University Extension Grays Harbor – https://extension.wsu.edu/graysharbor/family/food/.

If you’re new to canning or need a refresher, the USDA has a great resource, the Complete Guide to Home Canning, available for free download at https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE01_HomeCan_rev0715.pdf.

Zesty Sweet Peppers recalled due to Botulism Risk

Soul Cedar Farm of Quilcene, WA is voluntarily recalling all batches of shelf-stable Zesty Sweet Peppers because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin, which can cause life- threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should immediately contact a health care provider. At this time, there are no known illnesses associated with the recalled product.

The recall was initiated after routine sampling conducted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) revealed that one batch of Zesty Sweet Peppers had a pH level high enough to support formation of the Clostridium botulinum toxin. Soul Cedar Farm and WSDA continue to work jointly to address the source of the problem.

The recalled product was packaged in 8-ounce glass containers and was sold at retail stores in Quilcene and Port Townsend, WA.

Argentina Botulism - Two Cases

Two women have been hospitalized for botulism, including one in serious condition, according to a La Voz report.The patients ate matambre (Argentian flank steak) and Russian salad delivered from a  traditional restaurant in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Boedo.

“The salad is prepared with boiled potatoes and carrots and dried peas soaked in a can, with salt and mayonnaise added. Orders are shipped in disposable plastic containers with lids, and they include four slices of homemade matambre along with a portion of Russian salad”, according to the restaurant.

Thirty-six hours after consuming the food, both women began to present symtptoms of difficulty swallowing and speaking, muscle weakness of upper and lower limbs and double vision.

One of those affected was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Municipal Sanatorium ‘Dr. Julio Mendez’; the other ended up in the ICU of the Naval Hospital ‘Dr. Pedro Mallo’.

Both patients received botulinum antitoxin.

The CABA’s Operative Supervision Division carried out the actions to verify the hygienic-sanitary conditions of the restaurant, as well as to take samples of the suspicious foods and their ingredients.

The report of the Sanitary Bacteriology Service of the National Institute of Diseases Infectious/National Administration of Laboratories and Institutes of Health ‘Dr. Carlos Gregorio Malbrán’ (INEI-ANLIS) concluded that none of the samples detected the presence of botulinum toxin or Clostridium botulinum spores.

Thanks to outbreaknewstoday.

Armenia with Botulism

Since January 1, 2022, 6 cases of botulism with 10 victims have been registered in Armenia, according to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the RA Ministry of Health.

Taking into account the severe course of the disease, in order to avoid further complications, the RA Ministry of Health urges:

Avoid home-made canned food

Heat home-made canned food by boiling it for 20-25 minutes before using it.

do not buy home-made canned food from the market or random individuals;

See a doctor immediately as soon as the first symptoms appear.

The main symptoms of botulism are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. shortness of breath, obstruction of the act of aspiration, unilateral paralysis. These symptoms appear 2-3 hours to 10 days after eating the affected food.

Botulism is a severe food poisoning caused by Clostridium botulinum. The pathogen is found in the external environment, in the soil by the eggs of spores, from where it spreads to vegetables and greens. Anodic conditions are required for the growth and development of this pathogen, where it reproduces and produces venom. Such conditions are created in hermetically sealed cans. Destruction of the pathogen is possible only in special devices, under the influence of high pressure (1.5-2 atmospheres) և heat (120-130 ° C) in autoclaves, which are available only in canning companies. These conditions cannot be met at home.

Food affected by botulism does not change its taste, smell, color or appearance.

Botulism in Argentina and Ukraine in 2021

Foodborne botulism has been linked to two deaths in an Argentinian province.

The Ministry of Public Health in Misiones reported the two fatalities and at least four other cases occurred this past week in the village of Andresito.

The four ill people, including three adults and one child, are being treated in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. According to media reports, a third person, a child, has since died and up to 10 people have been affected.

Agency officials said that products suspected to be linked to the food poisoning have been seized. Local media reported homemade sausages are believed to be the source of infection.

The Ukraine Ministry of Health reported 88 outbreaks of botulism in 2021, as a result of which 98 people became ill, including three children. Ten cases were fatal.

79 patients were given anti-botulinum serum. In 2021, cases of botulism were registered in all regions of Ukraine, except Zakarpattia, Luhansk and Mykolaiv regions. The highest number of cases was registered in Volyn oblast – 9, eight cases were recorded in Zhytomyr, Lviv and Chernihiv oblasts and seven cases were reported in Cherkasy oblast. The main causes of botulism food poisoning were the consumption of dried / salted / dried freshwater fish of home cooking or of unknown origin, which was purchased on the natural markets (30 cases – 30.6%), canned home-cooked meat (30 cases – 30.6%) .

FSIS quiet on possible Botulism Outbreak linked to canned soup

Federal officials are investigating an outbreak of botulism poisoning, but few details are available.

Canned soup is a suspect food, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

No other details have been released by the FSIS. No brand or flavor of soup has been named, but the USDA regulates foods with meat and poultry ingredients.

The FSIS generally does not include information in its initial outbreak notices about the number of sick people or where they live.

The bacteria that causes botulism poisoning is Clostridium botulinum. It produces a neurotoxin and commonly grows in foods that are not held at high enough temperatures and in improperly processed food in cans and jars. Home-canned foods are particularly vulnerable to improper methods of processing. 

While a variety of illnesses can result from eating under-processed food, one of the most dangerous is botulism poisoning. Untreated, botulism can paralyze the muscles needed for breathing, resulting in sudden death.

Anyone who has eaten any canned soup and developed signs of botulism poisoning should immediately seek medical attention, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. However, symptoms can begin as soon as 6 hours after or up to 10 days later,” according to the CDC website.

The symptoms of botulism may include some or all of the following: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, a thick-feeling tongue, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. People with botulism poisoning may not show all of these symptoms at once.

These symptoms result from muscle paralysis caused by the toxin. If untreated, the disease may progress, and symptoms may worsen to cause paralysis of specific muscles, including those used in breathing and those in the arms, legs, and the body from the neck to the pelvis area.

This table has been abbreviated to show only active investigations.

Click on table to enlarge.

Botulism Lawsuit Filed

On January 19, 2021, Larry Wells purchased a two-container package of Kettle Cuisine brand clam chowder at the Sam’s Club located on New Circle Road in Lexington, Kentucky. As was his usual practice, he stored the two containers in his home pantry until he was ready to eat them. Larry would typically eat the entire contents of one container at a single meal. His wife, Estelle, detested clam chowder and never ate any.

In the days following the January 19 purchase of the chowder 2-pack, Larry consumed one container. Around 6 pm on January 30, 202, Larry heated the contents of the second container of chowder. As usual, Larry consumed the entire contents. He mentioned to Estelle that the chowder has a strange smell. Afterwards the empty container was discarded in the family trash bin.

The next day, Larry woke up feeling nauseated with a “weak and a droopy” left eyelid. He sought care at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center Emergency Department. His condition worsened rapidly, and he was admitted to inpatient care. On February 3, 2021, Dr. Hanine El Haddad, infectious disease specialist at the hospital, notified the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KY DPH) that Larry Wells was hospitalized with symptoms of botulism and that his serum would be sent to the agency’s Division of Laboratory Services (DLS) for testing. Carrell Rush, Reportable Disease Section Supervisor, Division of Epidemiology and Health Planning, at the KY DPH notified agency staff, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department (LFCHD), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about her conversation with Dr. El Haddad.

Serum collected from Larry on February 3, 2021, was confirmed positive for Clostridium botulinum toxin type A on February 4. This result was reported to the CDC Public Health Officer, Laura Ford, who authorized released of Botulism Antitoxin Heptavalent. Antitoxin was administered the next day.

LFCHD epidemiologists, Mia Williams, and Hollie Sands, interviewed Estelle Wells about Larry’s symptoms and foods he consumed in the 2 days before symptom onset. Estelle told investigators about the clam chowder Larry had consumed on January 31 and noted that she had not eaten any. Estelle retrieved the original chowder container from the trash and gave it to LFCHD environmental health staff who delivered the container to the state DLS on February 4. Testing for Clostridium botulinum began the next day. DLS shared photos of the container and packaging with investigators. Photos showed the Lot Number (Lot #602563 3A2 01051) and Use By Date of (03/26/21).  On February 9, 2021, DLS reported that laboratory testing confirmed the presence of C. botulinum toxin type A in the leftover clam chowder collected from Larry Wells’ home.

Local health agencies visited area Sam’s Clubs in search of Kettle Cuisine clam chowder, Lot #602563 3A2 01051. None was found. On February 9, the FDA Seattle District office located clam chowder of the same lot at the manufacturer, Fresh Foods of Washington in Everett, Washington. Samples were shipped to the FDA laboratory in Jefferson, Arkansas for testing. However, inclement weather delayed shipment and these samples could not be tested. On February 22, 2021, three more unopened 24-ounce containers of Members Mark New England Clam Chowder, Lot Number 602563 3A2 01051, were obtained from Fresh Foods and delivered to the FDA laboratory in Arkansas. Samples of all three containers were individually analyzed. Clostridium botulinum was recovered in Sub 2.

More Beans recall due to Botulism

Randall Foods, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio is recalling all its Randall-brand beans because of manufacturing deviations that may pose a potential health risk.  The recall includes the following products:

Brand

Description

UPC

Batch/Lot Numbers

“Best By” Date

Randall RANDALL GREAT NORTHERN BEANS 48OZ 070095000100 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL GREAT NORTHERN BEANS 24OZ 070095000117 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall
Randall
RANDALL GREAT NORTHERN BEANS 15.4OZ
RANDALL PINTO BEANS 48OZ
070095000131
070095000209
ALL
ALL
Prior to January 1 2025
Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL PINTO BEANS 24OZ 070095000216 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL PINTO BEANS 15.4OZ 070095000230 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL MIXED BEANS 48OZ 070095000407 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL MIXED BEANS 24OZ 070095000414 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL MIXED BEANS 15.4OZ 070095000430 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL KIDNEY BEANS 48OZ 070095000308 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL KIDNEY BEANS 24OZ 070095000315 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL KIDNEY BEANS 15.4OZ 070095000339 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL NAVY BEANS 48OZ 070095000506 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL NAVY BEANS 15.4OZ 070095000537 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL BLACK BEANS 48OZ 070095000605 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL BLACK BEANS 24OZ 070095000612 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL BLACK BEANS 15.4OZ 070095000636 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL GARBANZO BEANS 24OZ 070095000711 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL GARBANZO BEANS 15.4OZ 070095000735 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL ULITMATE 4-BEAN MIX 48OZ 070095000902 ALL Prior to January 1 2025
Randall RANDALL ORGANIC GREAT NORTHERN BEANS 48OZ 070095005105 ALL Prior to January 1 2025

The product is sold in 48oz, 24oz, and 15.4oz glass jars with tan labels with “Randall” at the label top.    Approximately 1.6 million cases of affected products were distributed between March 1, 2019 and May 15, 2021 at retail locations in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

The manufacturing deviations included a nonfunctioning temperature indicating device raising the possibility that the product was not effectively processed. Processing at temperatures below a required temperature could create a condition that could lead to premature spoilage or food borne illness; however, there have been no illnesses reported. The company is issuing this voluntary recall as a precaution.

Beans Recalled over Botulism risk

Faribault Foods, Inc. is voluntarily recalling 15 ounce cans of S&W Organic Black Beans, 15 ounce cans of O Organic Brand Black Beans and 15 ounce cans of O Organic Brand Chili Beans because the cans may have a compromised hermetic seal.  The compromised hermetic seal may affect can integrity and may cause the cans to leak, bloat or allow bacteria to grow inside the product which could lead to serious illness.  Clostridium botulinum 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. Botulism poisoning can cause paralysis of the breathing muscles, which can result in death unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided.

The recalled products were distributed nationwide in retail stores.

This event only affects the lot codes listed below:  The lot codes are printed on the bottom of the can.

Product

Lot Number

Distribution Dates

S&W Organic Black Beans, 15 oz. Best By JAN 31 2023  1329A 032 21 February 2021-April 2021
S& W Organic Black Beans, 15 oz. Best By FEB 01 2023 1329A 033 21 February 2021-April 2021
S&W Organic Black Beans, 15 oz. Best By FEB 02 2023 1329A 034 21 February 2021-April 2021
S&W Organic Black Beans, 15 oz. Best By FEB 03 2023 1329A 035 21 February 2021-April 2021
O Organic Organic Black Beans, 15 oz. Best By FEB 03 2023 981A 035 21 February 2021-April 2021
O Organic Organic Chili Beans, 15 oz. Best By FEB 04 2023 978A 036 21 February 2021-April 2021

No other production codes, sizes or brands of Faribault Foods, Inc. products are affected by this recall.

Consumers who may have purchased the products listed above should return them to the store where purchased for a refund or replacement.

The recall was initiated after the firm had received consumer and customer complaints regarding failure of the hermetic seal.  The problem related to the hermetic seal failure was corrected and no other product is affected.

What to know about Botulism

Botulism is a life-threatening paralytic illness caused by neurotoxins produced by an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium—Clostridium botulinum. 

Foodborne botulism is the type that is typically associated with classic botulism symptoms; it is caused by eating foods or ingesting substances that contain botulinum toxin. In foodborne botulism, it is the pre-formed toxin that causes illness, not the bacterium itself. The incidence of foodborne botulism is extremely low, usually fewer than 25 cases per year in the United States. Nonetheless, the extreme risk to public health posed by the toxin requires  that “intensive surveillance is maintained for botulism cases in the United States, and every case is treated as a public health emergency.” Botulism poisoning carries a mortality rate of up to 65% when victims are not treated immediately and properly. Medical treatment is supportive (including mechanical ventilation if required), and an antitoxin may be given to bind free toxin and reverse or delay the progression of symptoms, when used early in the course of illness. Most foodborne botulism reported annually in the United States is associated with home-canned foods that have not been safely processed. Occasionally, though, commercially processed foods are implicated in botulism poisoning, including sausages, beef stew, canned vegetables, and seafood products.

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