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California Man Dies After Contracting Botulism from Nacho Cheese

Posted on in Food poisoning attorney

The story of the man who died from contracting botulism as part of an outbreak in northern California hit the news recently, making food poisoning and safe food handling procedures a national discussion. In total, nine people were hospitalized as a result of becoming ill with botulism after consuming nacho cheese sauce purchased from a gas station near Sacramento in April 2017. After health officials removed four batches of the sauce from the gas station, the sauce tested positive for the botulinum toxin, the toxin that causes botulism.

Botulism can have deadly effects on victims. Know the types of food that can be contaminated with botulism and how you can protect yourself and your children from this risk. Knowing the symptoms of botulism and when to seek medical treatment are also critical to overcoming this illness if you or your children become sick.

What Causes Botulism?

The botulinum toxin is secreted by Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that can be found in canned products. Specifically, home-canned products are at the greatest risk of harboring this bacterium, but it can also be found in commercially produced products.

Botulism cases are rare, affecting approximately 20 adults in the United States each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The toxin attacks the victim's nervous system and requires treatment with an antitoxin. Even when the antitoxin is employed, botulism is fatal in 3 to 5% of cases.

Symptoms of botulism include pain in the abdomen, difficulty speaking and swallowing, facial paralysis, blurred or double vision, and drooling or dryness in the mouth. When botulism is suspected, the victim needs attention from a critical care doctor as soon as possible to receive an antitoxin injection and in some cases, treatment like mechanical ventilation.

Reducing your Chance of Suffering from Botulism

You can reduce your chance of suffering from botulism. If you open a canned food product and it smells bad or appears to be moldy, throw it away. Do not consume food from cans that are leaking, bulging, cracked, or swollen.

Canned foods should be stored at 50 to 70 degrees and consumed within one year of purchase. Products like cheeses, chili pastes, and vegetables in garlic-infused oil should be stored in the refrigerator, rather than at room temperature. Like you would with all other foods, cook food thoroughly to kill any lingering toxins. Foods low in acid like beets, potatoes, and meats should be boiled for 10 minutes before eating for this purpose.

Work with an Experienced Elk Grove Food Poisoning Lawyer

When food poisoning occurs as the result of an individual or group's negligence, victims of that food poisoning outbreak can seek monetary compensation for their damages through food poisoning claims. To learn more about filing this specific type of personal injury claim, contact our team of food poisoning lawyers at Newland & Newland, LLP today to set up your initial consultation in our office. We serve clients in the Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, and Itasca areas.

(image courtesy of Markus Spiske)

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