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
■■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.