How to avoid botulism when canning at home

Recently, there was a recall of canned beans sold at Costco, due to compromised hermetic seals. This can lead to botulism poisoning, which can be incredibly dangerous. Compromised seals may cause cans to leak or bloat. Worse, it may allow bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum to grow inside of the product.

home canning

How serious is botulism?

If left untreated, botulism can paralyze our muscles needed for breathing, resulting in death. Most botulism cases have an onset of symptoms 18-36 hours after ingestion.

However, in some cases, symptoms can begin as early as six hours after ingestion, or might not appear until 10 days later.
What are the symptoms of botulism?

Though people with botulism may not experience all of these symptoms at once, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A thick-feeling tongue
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness

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. When breathing muscles become affected, it can result in sudden death.

canned pickles

How can I tell if my food has been infected by botulism?

Although the botulism toxin cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, ingesting small tastes of contaminated food can be deadly. For this reason, it is important to err on the side of caution with canned goods. If the container is leaking or spurts liquid or foam when opened, or if the food inside is discolored, moldy or emits an odor, throw it away.

How common is botulism?

Fortunately, botulism is not very common. An average of 110 cases are reported per year, and a quarter of these cases come from foodborne illness. One precaution that people should take is to understand proper home canning techniques, as botulism can occur if the foods being canned are not properly sealed. The CDC provides some helpful information and links for anyone interested in home canning.

botox injections

Isn’t Botox a form botulism?

Although Botox contains the botulinum toxin, it is considered safe. However, if too much Botox is injected, or if it is improperly injected, a person can get sick with Iatrogenic botulism. People who receive Botox injections for cosmetic reasons (wrinkles), or medical reasons (migraine headaches) should only seek treatment from reputable doctors.

If you have been affected by a foodborne illness through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced attorneys at Allen & Allen offer a free consultation to learn more about your unique situation. Call today at 866-388-1307.