Botulism Food Poisoning

Eating foods that contain the botulinum toxin will lead to food poisoning. Improperly preserved home-processed foods -- especially those with low acid content, such as green beans, beets, and corn -- are a common source of botulism food poisoning. The toxin can easily develop in improperly stored home-cooked or commercial foods, as well as in canned foods that have not been prepared with proper canning procedures.

Botulism Food Poisoning: An Overview

Botulism is a rare but serious illness that is caused by toxins (poisons) produced by specific bacteria (Clostridium botulinum). In severe cases, botulism can lead to paralysis or death. Botulism food poisoning (also known as foodborne botulism) is one form of the illness (see Botulism Types).
 

Common Causes

Botulism food poisoning is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. A common source is improperly preserved home-processed foods with low acid content, such as corn, green beans, and beets. Less likely sources include fish products and other commercially processed foods.
 

Ideal Environment for Botulism Food Poisoning

Certain conditions allow Clostridium botulinum spores to germinate and the botulinum toxin to be produced. These conditions include:
 
  • Absence of oxygen
  • Low acidity levels
  • Temperatures between 40 and 120°F (4.5 to 49°C).
     
The potential for food poisoning can easily develop in improperly stored home-cooked or commercial foods, as well as in canned foods that have not been prepared with proper canning procedures.
 

The Botulism Incubation Period

The time between a person becoming infected with botulism bacteria and the beginning of symptoms is called the "incubation period." For food poisoning related to botulism, the incubation period is between 18 to 36 hours, but can occur as early as 6 hours after eating contaminated food or as late as 10 days.
 
 

Botulism Disease

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