How To Get My 1 Year Old To Eat Food Botulism – Beware of Grandmas Home-Canned Green Beans

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Botulism – Beware of Grandmas Home-Canned Green Beans

Each year, approximately 150 cases of botulism are diagnosed in the United States, of which approximately 25 are specifically caused by contaminated food. Foodborne botulism is a serious poisoning caused by eating a pre-formed toxin in contaminated food.

Foodborne botulism occurs when the bacterium Clostridium botulinum is allowed to grow and produce a toxin in food that is later eaten without sufficient heating or cooking to inactivate the toxin. Botulinum toxin is one of the most powerful neurotoxins known.

The growth and toxin formation of these anaerobic bacteria usually occurs in products with low acidity and oxygen content, as well as low salt and sugar content. Inadequately processed foods stored at home, such as asparagus, green beans, beets, and corn, have often occurred. However, botulism has occurred from more unusual sources, such as minced garlic in oil, chili peppers, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil, and home-stored or fermented fish. Garden food, such as tomatoes, which were once considered too acidic for Clostridium botulinum to grow, are now considered a potentially dangerous food in home canners. Although more common in home canning, it occurs only occasionally in commercially prepared foods.

In America, the most common type of botulism is infant botulism, which accounts for about 65% of all botulism cases. This disease affects children under 12 months of age. The baby ingests bacterial spores in foods such as honey. The spores germinate in the intestine, where they produce bacteria, which in turn multiply and release the toxin. Because honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores, honey should not be fed to babies under 1 year of age.

Typically, within a few hours to several days after eating the contaminated food, you will begin to show the classic symptoms; blurred vision, dry mouth and difficulty swallowing. Gastrointestinal symptoms may or may not occur. Left untreated, paralysis always descends through the body, starting at the shoulders and moving downwards. The most serious complication of botulism is respiratory failure, where it leads to death in up to 10% of people. It may take months for recovery to be complete.

If the disease is detected early enough, it can be treated with antitoxin. If paralysis and respiratory failure occur, the person may be on a ventilator for several weeks.

What can you do to prevent this terrible foodborne illness?

o Follow strict hygiene guidelines when storing food at home.

o Refrigerate oils containing garlic or herbs.

o Store the baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil either hot until serving or in the refrigerator.

o Consider boiling home-canned food for 10 minutes before eating it to inactivate the poison hidden in the food.

o Discard any damaged or bulging cans or canned food with an unusual smell. Don’t taste it or even try to cook it, just throw it away.

Home canning and preserving food is a tradition in America that is as old as the country itself. Taking precautions and common sense steps can help prevent this powerful poison from entering your canned goods.

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