Where Do Clostridium botulinum and perfringens Come From?
Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that produce toxins harmful to humans. It is a spore-forming gram-positive bacteria that can be found in the intestines of mammals and is found in raw meats. This bacterium is also found throughout the environment, and also in sewage. Food poisoning from C.perfringens is associated with undercooked meats. Often in large quantities of food prepared for a large group of people and left to sit out for long periods of time. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as the food service bacteria.
Meat products such as stews, casseroles, and gravy are the most common sources of illness from C.perfringens. Most outbreaks come from food whose temperature is poorly managed.
This tells us that the need for a basic understanding of food safety is needed in most kitchens throughout the world. This bacteria would not be a concern if meats are cooked and reheated correctly. Food poisoning from Clostridium perfringens can happen very quickly ranging from 6 – 24 hours.
How to prevent food poisoning from Clostridium perfringens
- Thoroughly cook foods, particularly meat, poultry, and gravies, to a safe internal temperature at 75˚C or above (167˚F)
- Use a food thermometer to measure these temperatures
- Keep food hot after cooking at 65˚C (140˚ F or above)
- Microwave reheated food thoroughly.
- Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours at 4˚C (40˚F)
- Divide leftovers into shallow containers and refrigerate immediately. Do not let them cool on the counter, the longer your foods are exposed to the danger zone, the more likely bacteria will grow.
Clostridium Botulinum (Botulism)
Clostridium botulinum are bacteria that grow in food and produce toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis. These bacteria are anaerobic organisms. Meaning that it grows and survives in conditions without oxygen. This bacteria forms spores that allow it to survive in harsh conditions. Botulism poisoning is rare but so dangerous that each case is considered a public health risk. Most of the botulism cases reported each year come from foods that are not canned properly at home. But can happen commercially when cans are dented or damaged.Always discard damaged tins, even minor punctures unseen by the naked eye. These can allow Clostridium botulinum to enter and contaminate the foods.
What is Botulism?
Botulism is a paralysing disease affecting the body’s nervous system. This is caused by the ingestion of one of the potent neurotoxins produced by C. botulinum bacteria. This neurotoxin is among the most toxic substances known even microscopic amounts can cause illness. (USDA)Symptoms of botulism usually appear within 12 to 36 hours after eating food containing the neurotoxin. Although there have been documented cases that ranged from 4 hours to 8 days. The earlier the symptoms appear, the more serious the disease. Treatment requires quick medical attention and an antitoxin. (USDA) If untreated, paralysis will set in. Without treatment, the breathing muscles will eventually become paralyzed, resulting in respiratory failure and death.
Home cooking can be a cost-effective and fun process. But food safety in the home is just as important as it is in the industry. Always take care during preparation, and follow the food safety pillars in order to ensure your meals are always safe.
Always follow instructions carefully when canning food at home.
- Do not taste canned food items to see if they are still good. Throw away any cans that are bulging, leaking, or appear damaged
- Keep oils infused with garlic or herbs in a refrigerator
- Boil home-processed foods for at least 10 minutes before eating, even if no signs of food spoilage are evident. This means 75˚C or above (167˚F).
Botulism & Botox
Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It’s the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism. Doctors use it in small doses to treat health problems, including
- Temporary smoothing of facial wrinkles and improving your appearance
- Severe underarm sweating
- Cervical dystonia – a neurological disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder muscle contractions
- Blepharospasm – uncontrollable blinking
- Strabismus – misaligned eyes
- Chronic migraine
- Overactive bladder
Botox injections work by weakening or paralyzing certain muscles or by blocking certain nerves. The effects last about 3 to 12 months, depending on what you are treating. The most common side effects are pain, swelling, or bruising at the injection site. You could also have flu-like symptoms, headache, and upset stomach. Injections in the face may also cause temporary drooping eyelids.
Can you get Botulism from Botox?
An article published by CNN in 2004 suggested that 4 patients fell sick from Botox, suggesting botulism was the cause. Doctors dealing with the case insisted that there had never been a single case relating Botox to Botulism. Scientific journals conducting research suggests that although Botox is poisonous, it is the dose that decides if there would be risky or not. There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence that there is a link between botulism and botox, because the disease if so rare. But there is definitely a risk, and Botox should be taken with the knowledge of this.
The bacteria Clostridium botulinum releases the toxin that causes botulism as part of its natural anaerobic process, meaning it grows in an oxygen-free environment, much like a sealed tin.
Over the years, the home canning process was and is not as efficient as an industry today. This was because the heating and sterilising process was not in place. With the advent of commercial canning and a better understanding of botulism to put food safety procedures in place, it is now rare to have a canned food related to a botulism outbreak.
Understanding food safety of canned food is critical in home canning.
Canning of jams is a very simple and well-known process. It has been practised for generations. Canning requires basic skills and equipment and it has been safely performed all over the world.
However, home canning of meat, poultry, fish and vegetables is a more involved process that requires a good understanding of food hygiene.
The commercial production of low-acid foods is highly regulated by Food Safety and rightly so. Even with all these regulations, there are still circumstances where recalls of processed foods occur each year. The toxin produced by botulism is, fortunately, heat resistant. Meaning it can be inactivated by boiling in water at 100° C (212° F) for 10 minutes. Old canning manuals often asked for boiling home-canned meats and vegetables for 10-15 minutes in an open vessel. This procedure was meant to destroy any bacteria or toxins that might have survived the incorrect canning process.
All low-acid foods must be processed at a temperature higher than that of boiling water, i.e. in a pressure canner. Higher temperatures are required to destroy naturally-occurring spores that can cause botulism. Pressure canning must be done for the designated time for the specific food and size of the canning jar. Low-acid foods include vegetables, tomato products with added vegetables or meat, meat and game, soups, stews, seafood, and poultry.
Microwave canning, open-kettle methods or hot-fill, oven canning, and steam canning are not considered safe. They do not create or maintain the temperatures needed to vent jars or destroy spoilage microorganisms.
A recipe book will help you understand the process.
Pressure Canner/Steam Pressure Canner
A steam pressure canner is required for all low-acid foods.
A stainless steel ladle needed for proper sanitation.
Kitchen tongs or a magnetic jar lid lifter
Used to place the lid in very high temperatures. You don’t want to burn.
Again, the jar will be boiling hot.
Funnel and food strainer are also useful cooking tools. It’s ideal that these are stainless steel so that you can safely sterilise your equipment.
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