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Prevention of Botulism
■■ Avoid consuming improperly preserved home-canned foods, especially vegetables such as green beans, asparagus, and peppers.
■■ Home-canning of vegetables should be done with a pres-sure cooker so as to attain temperatures necessary to kill botulinum spores (> 100° C for 10 minutes).
■■ Jams and jellies can be safely home- canned without pressure cooker, since their high sugar content will not encourage the growth of Cl. botulinum.
■■ Cooked foods should not be kept at temperatures of 4° C to 60° C for more than 4 hours.
■■ Boiling food for 10 minutes before eating destroys botu-linum toxin.
■■To prevent germination of spores in food, the pH should be maintained at less than 4.5, the sodium chloride content must be more than 3.5%, and nitrite level should be suffi-ciently high. Acidifying agents such as citric or phosphoric acid must be employed in canning or bottling foods with low acid content (green beans, asparagus, peppers, corn, beets, mushrooms, spinach, olives, figs).
■■Food contaminated by Cl. botulinum types A and B often looks or smells abnormal due to action of proteolytic enzymes. If there is any doubt, the food item must be discarded.* Alarmingly, food contaminated with type E toxin usually looks and smells normal.
■■Prevention of infant botulism can be done by thoroughly washing foods and objects that are placed in a child’s mouth. Honey must not be given to infants.
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