Have just been reading this article about Lloyd Grossman sauces and can't help wondering if all our US friends will now be saying 'told you so'.
I do use this brand of sauces for pasta dishes and have always found them to be very tasty - luckily I dont have any of the batch that has caused the problem - which I believe is confined to the Scottish area. However, I did have a jar of Korma which is now in the bin. It is probably fine but I couldn't use it now.
Botulism poisoning can occur due to improperly preserved or home-canned, low-acid food that was not processed using correct preservation times and/or pressure.
The above sentence was in an article about botulism so should we now be more concerned about our methods of preserving?
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
Surely something is either fatal or not, I'm not sure it can be very fatal. I agree there are guidelines but by the very definition 'guidelines' they can be quite varied. I always thought the obsession the Americans had with canning and processing was a little OTT but understand that it stems from the fact that Botulism was quite common over there in some States.
If someone is permanently disabled or (unthinkably) dies from this case then how many of us will start to question the guidelines we are actually following. If it is possible for Botulism to rear its ugly head in a professional canning environment (albeit in only one batch) how much more chance is there of it happening in our own kitchens. I might think twice before handing out my jars of jam and chutney in future and I might just be looking at investing in some more equipment. I just wouldn't want to take any risks even if there is just a tiny chance.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
I have always felt happy with what I produce and do not use commercially prepared sauces. Whilst I am not an expert on botulism I think it unlikely to occur in a home environment. Possibly the big factory machines are tricky to clean. I daresay somone will have a different opinion but I am not going to panic.
I agree, Aly, just look at the thousands of WI cake stalls selling jam and the like; if people were dropping like flies, I think we'd have heard about it. Botulism is incredibly rare, but it does emphasise the need to follow the rules and be scrupulously clean.
Maura, I've noticed that most Americans who make jam and chutney process the jars in a water bath, even though the majority of Europeans don't consider this necessary provided you use sterile jars and seal them properly when hot. So you could do that if you have any concerns about it.
What does make me a bit queasy is people who flavour olive oil by just sticking herbs/spices in the bottle and screwing the top on. That really is a recipe for botulism -- you should heat the oil with the herbs to kill the bugs first.
I think Aly is right, there is more chance of something happening on a grand scale than in a small kitchen. Plus I think you also get used to your own local bugs. Also bear in mind something I saw the other day, just because it won't kill you doesn't mean it is good for you, so much industrial agriculture and processing means we may not have some of the bugs that can make us ill, but neither do they have the micronutrients we need and so we get sick in other ways and not in such obvious ways as from bugs.
I once had a jar of that ready made pataks raita as a stand by in the cupboard - I never seem to have plain yoghurt in when I want it. Anyway one day I had cause to use it, I opened the jar and there was thick mould growth on the top, I was initially appalled and was going to write to pataks, but I noticed that there was a debt in the side of the lid, and I assume that had allowed the seal to be broken and air to get in, I wonder if this was the issue with the Lloyd grossman sauce. By the way, I bought another jar at another time, and although it was fine (health wise) it was awful and I won't be bothering with it again.
I think botulism is anaerobic, that is it grows in environments with no air. Your dented jar grew mould because air had got in, but it probably wouldn't have been botulism (and at least you can see mould!). The Loyd Grossman thing must have been different I think. Wikipedia also says:
"Botulism can be prevented by killing the spores by pressure cooking or autoclaving at 121 °C (250 °F) for 3 minutes or providing conditions that prevent the spores from growing. The toxin itself is destroyed by normal cooking processes - that is, boiling for a few minutes."
suggesting that maybe the initial issue was imperfect sterilisation. Then again, if the sauce had been thoroughly boiled when used, that should have killed the spores. There's a whole section on prevention in the Wikipedia entry.
BTW, did you know that botulism spores are the active ingredients in Botox? Lovely 🙂
do people realise what they are putting in their bodies I wonder? I'll keep my wrinkles thanks
Botulinum toxin - produced by Clostridium botulinum (among others ...) and a frightening thought (from Wikipedia, of course) is this:
This means that, depending on the method of introduction into the body, a mere 90"270 nanograms of botulinum toxin could be enough to kill an average 90 kg (200 lb) person, and four kilograms of the toxin, if evenly distributed, would be more than enough to kill the entire human population of the world.
It does however provide a useful means of pain relief for some
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