About Botulism

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

About Botulism Blog

Igunaq (Fermented Walrus Meat) poses Botulism Risk

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services was informed of suspected cases of Botulism (qassuniq) in Inukjuak, on March 22. An investigation revealed that the cases were associated with igunaq consumed during two feasts on March 18th and March 19th. More than 27 people may have been exposed at the feasts and afterward from food later consumed at home. There may still be contaminated igunaq in the community and in situations like this, the meat from that source should be destroyed. The best way to destroy the contaminated meat would be to burn it. It’s important to identify all the meat from the suspected igunaq and be sure it’s destroyed. Before eating walrus meat, people should verify where it came from and make sure that it’s not from the same source that was given at the feasts.

Botulism (qassuniq) is a severe disease that can lead to death. There is no way of cleaning the contaminated meat and it must be destroyed. People who think they might have symptoms of botulism (qassuniq) should seek medical evaluation at their local CLSC (Nursing Station). Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, weakness, dry mouth, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), blurred vision and dysphonia/dysarthria (voice or speech disorder).

A few suspected cases of botulism (qassuniq) occur each year in Nunavik. Keeping sea mammal products at a cold temperature (below 4°C) at all times is a preventive measure. Freezing products and waiting for the cooler days of fall is recommended for making igunaq safely.

Boneless Sardines recalled over Botulism Worry

Clover Leaf Seafoods Corp. is recalling two flavors of boneless sardines because it has been determined that they may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism poisoning.

The company triggered the recall, according to a notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The notice did not provide any details on how the problem was discovered or how the volume of sardines subject to recall.

Government inspectors are working with the company to find the cause of the problem. The investigation could lead to the recall of other products, according to the CFIA notice.

As of the posting of the recall notice no confirmed illnesses had been reported in connection with the recalled sardines.

Consumers ca use the following label information to determine whether they have any of the recalled sardines in their homes.

Brand Product Size UPC Codes
Clover Leaf Sardines Boneless Fillets – Garlic & Chive in Oil 106 g 0 61362 46008 6

0170CBXP 2025 JN 18

0204CBXP 2025 JL 22

Clover Leaf Sardines Boneless Fillets – Smoked Jalapeño in Oil 106 g 0 61362 46009 3

0171CBXP 2025 JN 19

0218CBXP 2025 AU 05

0307CBXS 2025 NO 02

About botulism
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 recalled products 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 of 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.

Botulism in Colorado in look for a cause

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has investigated several cases of confirmed or suspected foodborne botulism in the state since September. Testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed four of the cases, one is still under investigation and test results are pending. All five cases occurred along the Front Range. The individuals are either hospitalized or recovering.

The department investigated the cases in September and October. Three of the cases appear to be unrelated as no common food item was identified. The last two confirmed cases were likely the result of an improperly canned shared food made in the same household.

“Five cases of foodborne botulism in the span of a few months is unusual in Colorado and is cause for concern,” said Nicole Comstock, deputy branch chief, communicable disease branch. “Botulism does not spread from person to person, so there is no risk to the public. However, these cases are a good reminder of how important it is to properly preserve and handle food in the home.”

A variety of foods can be associated with foodborne botulism, including homemade foods that were improperly canned or preserved. The most common source of home-canning related botulism cases come from foods with a low acid content, such as chiles, green beans, potatoes, beets, corn, and asparagus. Prior to these recent cases, the last confirmed cases of foodborne botulism in Colorado occurred in 2019 among a group that consumed a commercially prepared potato product held at improper temperatures.

To prevent botulism, it is important to follow proper canning and food preservation procedures. The Preserve Smart website from Colorado State University Extension provides information regarding considerations for choosing tested preservation methods and the importance of adjusting canning methods for elevation to ensure home-preserved food products are safe to enjoy.

Additional steps people can take to reduce their chances of getting botulism include:

  • Refrigerating homemade oils infused with garlic or herbs and throwing away any unused oils after four days.
  • Keeping potatoes that have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil hot (at temperatures above 140°F) until they are served, or refrigerating them with the foil loosened.
  • Refrigerating any canned or pickled foods after you open them.
  • Before tasting or serving, boil all home-canned, low-acid vegetables for 10 minutes plus one minute for each 1,000 feet increase in elevation above sea level (e.g. at 5,000 feet, boil for 15 minutes).

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. When ingested, the toxin attacks the body’s nerves. Symptoms typically start with muscle weakness in the face and neck, and then spreads to the torso, arms, and legs. The toxin weakens muscles used for breathing which can lead to death. It is important that anyone ill with symptoms of botulism visit a health care provider immediately to be assessed.

Rhode Island Smoothies carry Botulism Risk

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Is advising consumers to avoid juices, smoothies, and sea moss gel purchased from Health is Wealth Nutrition Center located at 1674 Cranston Street in Cranston because of the potential for processing, storage, and control issues with these products. Product images are attached.

The products under investigation include:

– Health is Wealth Sea Moss Drink. This juice is sold in a variety of flavors including but not limited to Blackberry, Fruit Punch, Soursop Guanabana, Strawberry, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Mango, Guava Guayaba, and Tamarind. These products are sold in 12oz and 16oz containers.

– Health is Wealth Sea Moss Smoothie. This smoothie is sold in a variety of flavors including but not limited to Pina Coloda, Peanut Punch, Soursop/Guanabana, Cinnamon Vanilla, and Mango. These products are sold in 12oz and 16oz containers.

– Health is Wealth Sea Moss Gel. This gel is sold in a variety of flavors including Sea Moss Bladderwrack Aloe Vera Gel, Sea Moss Bladderwrack Gel, and Sea Moss Gel. These products are sold in 16 oz containers.

– Health is Wealth Sea Moss Protein Shakes. These shakes are sold in a variety of flavors including but not limited to Peanut and Cinnamon. These products are sold in 12oz and 16oz containers.

Inadequate processing allows for the survival of the toxin that can cause Botulism. Botulism can cause weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble speaking, swallowing, or breathing. People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention.

These products should be discarded.

No illnesses have been associated with these products.

Cheese recalled over Botulism risk

Primula Ltd. has recalled cheese spread in tubes in the United Kingdom and Ireland because of possible contamination with Clostridium botulinum due to a production fault.

Primula, part of the Kavli Group, recalled 10 varieties after finding one product contained Clostridium botulinum during a routine test and due to concerns other items in the range could be affected.

Manufacturing controls that could potentially affect safety of the products could not be demonstrated satisfactorily by the company, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) reported the issue relates to controlling factors to prevent the growth and toxin production by Clostridium botulinum. There’s currently been no reports of illness.

All 150-gram chilled Primula plain original cheese spread, cheese spread with smoked paprika, cheese spread with jalapeno, light cheese spread, cheese spread with ham, cheese spread with chive and cheese spread with prawn with best before dates from Dec. 25, 2020, to Jan. 28, 2021, are affected.

The ambient 100-gram versions of Primula original cheese spread, cheese spread with ham and cheese spread with chives with best before dates Oct. 30, to Dec 10, 2020, are also involved.

Cheese recalled over Botulism fears

Primula Ltd. has recalled cheese spread in tubes in the United Kingdom and Ireland because of possible contamination with Clostridium botulinum due to a production fault.

Primula, part of the Kavli Group, recalled 10 varieties after finding one product contained Clostridium botulinum during a routine test and due to concerns other items in the range could be affected.

Manufacturing controls that could potentially affect safety of the products could not be demonstrated satisfactorily by the company, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) reported the issue relates to controlling factors to prevent the growth and toxin production by Clostridium botulinum. There’s currently been no reports of illness.

All 150-gram chilled Primula plain original cheese spread, cheese spread with smoked paprika, cheese spread with jalapeno, light cheese spread, cheese spread with ham, cheese spread with chive and cheese spread with prawn with best before dates from Dec. 25, 2020, to Jan. 28, 2021, are affected.

The ambient 100-gram versions of Primula original cheese spread, cheese spread with ham and cheese spread with chives with best before dates Oct. 30, to Dec 10, 2020, are also involved.

Botulism in Alaska linked to home canned Salmon

Botulism risk in cold smoked Salmon

Mill Stream Corp. (Sullivan Harbor Farm) of Hancock, Maine is voluntarily recalling ten lots of Cold Smoked Salmon because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium 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. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated because the product’s water phase salt (WPS) tested below 3.5%. This was discovered upon re-review of laboratory certificates, which were found to have incorrectly reported WPS levels. Labeling instructions state to keep refrigerated at or below 38ºF and that the product may be frozen. Because the WPS is under 3.5% the product must remain frozen until ready to consume. Product stored in the refrigerator after thawing has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.

The recalled product was sold between March 6, 2019 and September 17, 2019 in vacuum sealed packages in the following sizes: whole salmon side, 2 lb., 1 lb., 8 oz., and 4 oz.  The affected product is marked with the following lot numbers marked on the back of the packages: 7049, 7050, 7051, 7052, 7054, 7056, 7058, 7060, 7062, 7066.

The smoked salmon products were sold and distributed in ME, MA, VT, RI, NY, CT, PA, NJ, OH, UT, IA, TN, MN,CO,FL, AZ,WI, WA, GA, IL, VA, MI, TX. The products sold were through retail, wholesale and online orders.

The affected product was sold frozen by Mill Stream Corp, but may have been thawed by retailers before sale. Consumers who purchased the product frozen are advised to keep it frozen until ready to use and thaw under refrigeration immediately before use. If a consumer has refrigerated product subject to the recall, they should dispose of it immediately even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

New Jersey Botulism Outbreak Identified

On October 25, 2018, at 2:15 a.m., a woman aged 30 years and her mother, aged 55 years, both of Egyptian descent, arrived at an emergency department in New Jersey in hypotensive shock after 16 hours of abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. The daughter also reported blurry vision and double vision (diplopia), shortness of breath, chest pain, and difficulty speaking. She appeared lethargic and had ophthalmoplegia and bilateral ptosis. Both women were admitted to the hospital. The mother improved after fluid resuscitation, but the daughter required vasopressor support in the intensive care unit. Although the mother did not have evidence of cranial nerve involvement on admission, during the next 24 hours, she developed dysphagia and autonomic dysfunction with syncope and orthostasis and was transferred to the intensive care unit as her symptoms progressively worsened similar to those of her daughter.

Two days before admission, both women had eaten fesikh, a traditional Egyptian fish dish of uneviscerated gray mullet that is fermented and salt-cured. Fesikh has been linked to foodborne botulism, including a large type E outbreak in Egypt in 1993 (1). The Egyptian Ministry of Health has since issued public health warnings regarding fesikh before Sham el-Nessim, the Egyptian holiday commemorating the beginning of spring, during which fesikh is commonly prepared and eaten.* Foodborne botulism outbreaks associated with fesikh and similar uneviscerated salt-cured fish have also occurred in North America (2); two outbreaks occurred among persons of Egyptian descent in New Jersey in 1992 (3) and 2005 (4).

Smoked Salmon with Botulism Risk

Mill Stream Corp. (Sullivan Harbor Farm) of Hancock, Maine is voluntarily recalling ten lots of Cold Smoked Salmon because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium 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. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated because the product’s water phase salt (WPS) tested below 3.5%. This was discovered upon re-review of laboratory certificates, which were found to have incorrectly reported WPS levels. Labeling instructions state to keep refrigerated at or below 38ºF and that the product may be frozen. Because the WPS is under 3.5% the product must remain frozen until ready to consume. Product stored in the refrigerator after thawing has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.

The recalled product was sold between March 6, 2019 and September 17, 2019 in vacuum sealed packages in the following sizes: whole salmon side, 2 lb., 1 lb., 8 oz., and 4 oz.  The affected product is marked with the following lot numbers marked on the back of the packages: 7049, 7050, 7051, 7052, 7054, 7056, 7058, 7060, 7062, 7066.

The smoked salmon products were sold and distributed in ME, MA, VT, RI, NY, CT, PA, NJ, OH, UT, IA, TN, MN,CO,FL, AZ,WI, WA, GA, IL, VA, MI, TX. The products sold were through retail, wholesale and online orders.

The affected product was sold frozen by Mill Stream Corp, but may have been thawed by retailers before sale. Consumers who purchased the product frozen are advised to keep it frozen until ready to use and thaw under refrigeration immediately before use.If a consumer has refrigerated product subject to the recall, they should dispose of it immediately even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

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