Botulism: Are canned beans a likely cause?

Food-borne botulism is likely to occur with incorrectly preserved food including beans. The botulinum toxin can cause severe sickness with paralysis that can lead to long-lasting illness or even death. Correct handling of food and preservation drastically lessens the risk for exposure to botulism.

Close look on clostridium botulinum

It is important to note that botulism is brought about by the nerve toxin released by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium which is mainly found in stream bottoms and soil.

botulism

It is important to note that botulism is brought about by the nerve toxin released by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium which is mainly found in stream bottoms and soil.

Most cases of food-borne botulism are caused by foods canned at home including green beans and other vegetables. If present in large amounts, the toxin can cause serious symptoms that typically start within 6-36 hours of ingesting contaminated food.

The initial symptoms of botulism include:

  • Double or blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Muscular weakness

In severe, cases, these symptoms are followed by paralysis and respiratory failure.

What are the high-risk sources of food?

Always bear in mind that food-borne botulism occurs from incorrectly preserved foods that include the botulinum toxin. Any food which was exposed to soil might hold the bacteria but incorrectly canned vegetables with low acidity as well as processed meats promote bacterial growth and poses as the highest risk.

Garbanzo, canned green beans, asparagus, kidney beans, corn, olives and herbs are some of the vegetables linked with botulism. It is important to note that Clostridium botulinum bacteria that grows in the food releases the toxin, but this form of botulism is not regarded as an infection and could not spread to others.

How can I lower the risk?

Various steps can be taken to lessen the risk for botulism from canned beans and other related foods. It is vital to thoroughly clean all food before processing or cooking and follow the suggested steps in processing in preserving food.

Before canned foods are eaten, check the container for leakage, bulging, unusual odor or buildup of pressure. Any unfamiliar odor or appearance must prompt immediate disposal of the food.

Remember that the botulinum toxin is highly sensitive to heat, thus cooking canned foods at least 10 minutes at temperatures above 176 degrees F and longer at higher elevations can eliminate the toxin.

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