Catching up on my Reading – How Not To Die From Botulism: What Home Canners Need To Know About The World’s Most Deadly Toxin

I was just reading this article by Erica at Northwest Edible Life. As a small batch canner, one of the things we are most concerned about is botulism. Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis. The bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which is found commonly in nature, produces this toxin. There are several types of botulism, including foodborne botulism, which is caused by eating foods that contain the botulinum toxin.

Botulism is a serious illness that should be treated as a medical emergency. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating or drinking food or beverages contaminated with the Clostridium botulinum toxin and the following foods have been associated with botulism:

  • improperly prepared home-canned, low-acid foods (for example, corn, green beans, peas, asparagus, beets, mushrooms, spaghetti sauce, salmon);
  • improperly stored low acid fruit juices (for example, carrot juice);
  • leftover baked potatoes stored in aluminium foil; and
  • honey, which has been linked to cases of infantile botulism and should not be fed to infants under one year of age.

Clostridium botulinum bacterium forms spores, which are small, usually single-celled reproductive bodies that are highly resistant to drought and heat and capable of growing into new organisms.

Under conditions with little oxygen (anaerobic), botulinum spores can germinate, resulting in the growth of bacteria and the production of the toxin. Botulism is not transmitted from person to person.  Botulism develops if a person ingests the toxin (or rarely, if the toxin is inhaled or injected) or if the organism grows in the intestines or wounds and toxin is released.

Food-borne botulism is spread by consuming food contaminated with the botulism toxin or spores.  It can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by consuming contaminated food from the same source.

We follow very strict canning practices when making our products. We scrupulously clean all surfaces and utensils. All fruits and vegetables are carefully washed. All of our canning jars are sterilized before adding the boiling ingredients. We are careful to ensure there is the right amounts of sugar (sugar is a preservative) and or acid to ill the botulism spores. When we publish any of our recipes, we expect you will follow the correct home canning processes. The most comprehensive ones I use are found here.

Click on the image or here for a full-size PDF of this infographic poster.



About badkowalik

Prepared by hand and cooked in small batches – our preserves are cooked slowly. There is an average of 1.5 pounds of fruit in every 8 oz jar. Not only can you taste the difference – you can see the difference. Beautiful natural color and unmatched textures – that can only be achieved by the patience and experience of the Confiseur (the maker). There is alchemy to what we do. Like fine wines, each season has it’s own specific style. We create preserves with exceptional taste. Capturing these flavors is the craft of our business. Beary Good Stuff is a collection of seasonal, sustainable, artisinally made preserves. The collection is made (in limited quantities) from local fruits using traditional cooking methods. We use the freshest ingredients we can get. The small batch production insures a taste and texture that is unmatched in the commercial market today. The collection includes preserved fruits & vegetables – marmalades, jams, fruit butters & salsas, pickles and gift collections that reflect the bounty of the season and spirit of feasting. Although not necessary yet, we have received a letter from the BC Heath Authority. We submitted a package detailing how and where we made our products, what each recipe contains and how we prepare it. This letter is displayed in our tent at the Farm Market. We have our BC MarketSafe and FoodSafe certifications.

Posted on August 18, 2013, in Unique and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for this great information. It’s good to know!

  2. That is such important information! We are glad to know you follow such strict practices, and hope others will, too.

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