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How Botulism Can Come from Commercial Foods

 Posted on July 05, 2019 in Botulism

How Botulism Can Come from Commercial FoodsCases of foodborne botulism in the U.S. are rare, typically numbering between 10 and 30 each year. Some botulism cases originate from people canning and preserving their own foods. Cracks or leaks in a food container will allow harmful bacteria to grow inside the food. You would not have anyone to file a lawsuit against if your own negligence in storing your food caused your illness. However, there are cases of foodborne botulism coming from commercial food producers, who can be held liable for illnesses that their products cause.

Commercial Canning

Commercially canned foods are less likely to contain bacteria than the food people can themselves at home because businesses have safety standards that they must follow, including:

  • Heating the cans long enough to kill spores that may cause botulism; and
  • Sealing the cans to prevent food contamination.

Foods that are low in acid are more vulnerable to bacteria, such as vegetables, fruits, and fish. You may recognize that canned food is contaminated if the can is bulging or the food gives off a bad odor. However, the bacteria do not always change the food’s taste or odor.

Food Preparation

It is possible to contract foodborne botulism from food that is prepared at a restaurant or store. For instance, a 2017 botulism outbreak in California was traced to nacho cheese that was prepared at a gas station. One person died and nine others were hospitalized. Restaurants and other businesses are responsible not only for preserving food safely but also for not serving cooked food that has been sitting exposed at room temperature for more than four hours. Risky foods include baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil and oils with chopped garlic in them.

Infant Botulism

Cases of infant botulism are more common in the U.S. than foodborne botulism. The Centers for Disease Control reported 141 cases of infant botulism in 2017, as opposed to 19 cases of foodborne botulism. Honey can cause botulism in babies younger than 1 because their bodies are unable to break down the spores found in honey. Parents are responsible for not feeding their infants honey, but a commercial food producer may be liable if it does not list honey as an ingredient in its product – especially if that product is meant for babies.

Contact a Chicago Food Poisoning Lawyer

Botulism can be deadly if you do not treat it soon after the symptoms develop. An Arlington Heights, Illinois, food poisoning attorney at Newland & Newland, LLP, can help you determine whether a commercially prepared food was the cause of your illness. To schedule a consultation, call 312-981-0409.


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