To prevent botulism of the foodborne variety, people who practice home-canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination. Guidelines for botulism prevention in wounds involves promptly seeking medical care for infected wounds and not using injectable street drugs. Botulism prevention in infants includes not feeding honey to children less than 1 year of age.
Botulism can be prevented. The recommendations for preventing botulism depend on the type of botulism (see Botulism Types).
The conditions under which Clostridium botulinum spores germinate and produce toxin are:
- Absence of oxygen
- Low acidity levels
- Temperatures between 40 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 to 49 degrees Celsius).
These conditions 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.
Foodborne botulism has often occurred from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as:
- Green beans
However, outbreaks of botulism can also occur from more unusual sources, such as:
- Chopped garlic in oil
- Chile peppers
- Improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil
- Home-canned or fermented fish.
People who engage in home canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods. Some suggestions include:
- Refrigerate oils infused with garlic or herbs
- Keep baked potatoes cooked in aluminum foil hot until they are served, or refrigerate them
- Boil home-canned foods for 10 minutes before eating to ensure safety.
Instructions on safe home canning can be obtained from county extension services or from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.