But, but mom, I don’t like beets

I called my mother the other day and she cut me short because she was jarring beets.

“You know your father likes his pickled beets.”

OK.

It was one of our go-to phrases growing up, and I have no idea why.

Probably because beets were a staple of 1970s funky glassware along with pickles and pickled onions.

But to do beets right, you may need advice from North Carolina canning queen, Ben Chapman, who produced this infosheet five years ago.

Nacho cheese botulism was likely linked to retail practices

Lots of folks must like to eat gas station food; even the nacho cheese and nacho combos. I figure they are good sellers since so much retail space is dedicated to the snack. Earlier this year, according to a memo from the California Department of Public Health, ten people became ill with botulism after eating nacho cheese from Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove, CA.

The memo highlights three notable things that came out of the investigation:

  • The 5 pound bag of nacho cheese collected at the retail location on May 5, 2017 was being used past the “Best By” date.
  • Records were not being maintained by the gas station employees indicating when the bag of nacho cheese was originally added to the warming unit.
  • The plastic tool designed to open the bags of cheese (provided with the nacho cheese warming and dispensing unit) was not being used by employees.

So the cheese was in the dispenser for a while, no one knows how long, and folks were using some other means to open the bag. Maybe some utensil with some soil ended up inserting bot spores deep into the anaerobic cheese bag.

 

Cole Hansberger fights botulism

Every day after work I look forward to playing and hugging my 2 kids, it’s what keeps me going and motivated to enjoy life to its’ fullest. The following story is heartbreaking to read…

Cole Hansberger has been in the Intensive Care Unit at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale since Aug. 6, his first birthday.
The day before he turned 1, Cole’s mother, Jackie Hansberger, noticed his head was drooping as he crawled.
By 5 p.m., that evening, Cole could no longer crawl.
At 3 a.m., the next morning, he could no longer sit up, she said.
The Peoria woman took her son to an emergency room, after which he was then transferred to Banner Thunderbird to be further evaluated.
Cole eventually was diagnosed with botulism, a rare condition that affects about 110 people per year in the United States, 72 percent of them infants, according to Banner officials.
Botulism is caused by ingesting spores of bacteria found in dirt, soil, dusty areas and certain foods.
These spores produce toxins that can lead to paralysis, said Dr. Rahul Chawla, pediatric critical-care physician at Thunderbird Medical Center who is treating Cole.
Jackie Hansberger said she hasn’t been home since Cole was admitted to intensive care.
“I refuse to leave his bedside,” she told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday. “Every day I sit, stare at the monitor all day, just to make sure my son’s breathing and he’s OK.
“Sometimes you get frustrated with your children, but I would pay a million dollars just to hear my son cry right now. I haven’t held him in over a week.”
Hansberger described Cole as rambunctious and amazing. His eyes and smile light up the room, she said.
She also has a 4-year-old son who is at home with her husband.
Chawla works 24-hour shifts and said he often gets close with a patient’s parents.
“Cole’s mom’s a rock,” he said. “I don’t think she’s left the unit.”
Hansberger has been told Cole faces a long recovery, but doctors offer a hopeful prognosis.
According to Chawla, Cole is still critically ill. He is on a ventilator and has minimal movement in his arms and legs. He will remain in intensive care for the next week to 10 days.
Cole will have to learn muscle memory again and undergo physical therapy sessions, which could last months. But Chawla said Cole should be able to return to a normal life.
Chawla said people should know the symptoms of botulism so they can seek medical attention immediately.
He said Cole’s symptoms were a classic indicator: muscle weakness, often starting with the nerves in the face and moving downward to the legs.
Chawla said people should avoid ingesting or being exposed to dirt, and washing fruits and vegetables to reduce the chances of botulism.
Hansberger wants all parents to be aware of botulism, although it is extremely rare.
“As a parent, you never expect it,” she said. “It’s a very scary experience. It humbles you as a person. Nothing else matters except in the moment.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Cole and his family

There’s a lot of botulism in Ukraine this year

According to MiceTimes of Asia (great name) there have been 90 illnesses and nine deaths in 2017 from foodborne botulism in Ukraine this year. Seems like a lot. Home canned foods and dried fish have been linked to many of the illnesses. Dried fish and botulism seem to go together. Five bot cases in Germany and Spain were linked to dried fish in 2016.

To prevent botulism, you must carefully follow the canning of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and mushrooms. Before the use of canned foods should be warmed to a temperature of 100°C for 30 minutes to destroy botulinum toxin.

In no case can not eat canned meat and fish, if the iron Bank is inflated or deformed.

Something may be lost in translation.

Ukrainian bot death linked to dried fish

In late 2016 six cases of botulism were linked to dried salted fish products in Germany and  Spain. According to 24.my.info a woman from the Kirovohrad region of Ukraine died from botulism also linked to dried fish (something may be lost in translation).

In the town of Novoukrainka of Kirovohrad region woman died from botulism after eating dried fish, which she bought personally in the store ATB city of Kharkiv. It is reported Kirovohrad regional laboratory center.

According to the report, the first symptoms of the disease in women appeared on July 6 near midnight, four hours after eating dried fish, which she (her words) bought personally in the store ATB city of Kharkiv.

Nacho cheese linked to gas station botulism outbreak

Before I moved to the south I hadn’t thought about a gas station as a place for a meal. Growing up in Ontario (that’s in Canada) I was familiar with a Tim Hortons/gas station combos, but there weren’t a lot of independent stations selling foods like here in North Carolina. Most gas stations are stocked at least with crockpots full of boiled peanuts or metal rollers frying hot dogs. Sometimes there are tacos, tamales, or bbq sandwiches.

Oh and nachos with a faucet that squirts cheese.

That kind of cheese has, according to the Sacramento Bee, been linked to a cluster of five cases of botulism at a California gas station.

On Wednesday, Sacramento County Public Health officials pinpointed the source of the botulism outbreak as “prepared food, particularly nacho cheese sauce” from Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in the Delta. Five people are hospitalized in serious condition with botulism, a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin, and an additional patient is suspected of having the illness.

The gas station, which sits on a busy stretch of River Road across from the Walnut Grove Bridge, stopped selling food and drink products on May 5 after the county Department of Environmental Management temporarily revoked its permit. Employees of the gas station refused to comment this week on the suspected outbreak.

Some of the gas station nacho cheeses come in an aseptically sealed bag (right, exactly as shown) that can be stored at room temperature because of how they are processed, despite the high pH and high water activity. Kathy Glass and Ellin Doyle wrote a fantastic summary of the safety of processed cheeses and they highlight three bot outbreaks of cheese sauces in the past.

A single case of fatal botulism in California was associated with the consumption of a Liederkranz Brand canned cheese spread in 1951. Few details are available about the formulation and conditions under which this product was produced and stored. The product label indicated that it was a pasteurized process soft ripened cheese spread with citric acid and vegetable gum added. Moisture and salt levels were not reported, but pH of the product was 5.9.

Two decades later in 1974, a cheese spread with onions was implicated in an outbreak in Argentina that resulted in six cases of botulism and three deaths.. As with the Liederkranz product, this spread was not thermally processed to be commercially sterile nor was it formulated specifically for safety. Laboratory experiments revealed that botulinal toxin was produced in cheese spread samples with a similar formulation (pH 5.7, aw 0.97) after 30 to 70 days’ storage at 30oC.

A third outbreak involving process cheese resulted in eight cases of botulism and one death in Georgia in 1993. The implicated cheese sauce was aseptically canned to eliminate C. botulinum spores; therefore, it was not formulated to prevent botulinal growth. The epidemiological investigation suggested that the product was likely recontaminated in the restaurant with C. botulinum spores and stored at room tempera- ture for several days before use. Inoculation studies of the implicated cheese sauce (pH 5.8, aw 0.96) revealed that botulinal toxin was produced after 8 days’ storage at 22oC.

 

 

Bot cluster linked to California gas station

Botulism is no joke. The threat of bot toxins binding to nerve endings and blocking muscle contractions scares me.

A small bit of toxin means no more hockey, no catch with my kids and months of rehab. That’s why I find it so scary.

There’s usually less than a couple of hundred cases annually in the US. And not much foodborne. In the past week we’ve seen dried deer antler tea-linked to two illnesses – and now a California gas station looks to be the source of another outbreak, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Sacramento County Public Health officials are investigating a botulism outbreak after several people who ate prepared food from the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove contracted the possibly fatal form of food poisoning.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said five cases are under investigation and the affected people are in serious condition at local hospitals. Four of the five confirmed they’d eaten prepared food from the gas station. Kasirye said the county wants to ensure that anyone who has eaten at the gas station since April 23 and is experiencing botulism symptoms receives immediate medical attention.

Unknown are the linked foods – and what the type toxin it is (because that may be a clue). I usually stick to candy bars and gum at gas stations.

2 sick with botulism from deer antler tea in Calif.

As I sip tea and watch the Pacific waves roll into Coff’s Harbour from our 13th floor beachside apartment, resting for the next-of-so-far-12 hours on the ice at a weekend hockey camp we arranged for 36 kids from Brisbane, I ask myself: who the fuck drinks tea from deer antlers?

Lots of people.

Lots of North Americans make lots of money selling deer antler velvet to southeast Asians, especially Chinese, who value the ingredient in traditional herbal medicine.

Until it gives someone botulism.

Public health officials consider a single case of botulism a public health emergency, because it might foretell a larger outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

One adult in Orange County, California has a confirmed case of botulism, and another has a suspected case. Health types suggest the botulism illnesses may be connected with drinking deer antler tea obtained in March.

According to ProMed, velvet antler (<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_antler>) “is used as a drug in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that classifies many
similar substances from a variety of species under the simplified
Chinese name pinyin Lu Rong and the pharmaceutical name Cervi Cornu
Pantorichum. The 2 common species used within the TCM system are Sika
Deer and Red Deer. Within the TCM system it is prescribed by a doctor
to a patient in the use to treat yang deficiency syndromes. In Asia,
velvet antler is dried and sold as slices or powdered. The powder or
slices are then boiled in water, usually with other herbs and
ingredients, and consumed as a medicinal soup.

Velvet antler in the form of deer antler spray has been at the center
of multiple controversies with professional sports leagues and famous
athletes allegedly using it for injury recovery and performance
enhancement purposes. In mid-2011 a National Football League (NFL)
player successfully sued a deer antler velvet spray manufacturer for
testing positive for methyltestosterone in 2009 for a total amount of
5.4 million.[19][20] In August 2011, Major League Baseball (MLB) added
deer antler spray to their list of prohibited items because it
contains “potentially contaminated nutritional supplements.”

On January 30, 2013, a professional PGA Tour golfer was caught unaware
and openly admitted to the personal use of deer antler spray which
contained a banned substance at the time. A week later the World
Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) lifted the ban on deer antler spray, but
with urgency, “Deer Antler Velvet Spray may contain IGF-1
(Insulin-like Growth Factor -1) and WADA recommends therefore that
athletes be extremely vigilant with this supplement because it could
lead to a positive test.” The consensus opinion of leading
endocrinologists concerning any purported claims and benefits “is
simply that there is far too little of the substance in even the
purest forms of the spray to make any difference,” and “there is no
medically valid way to deliver IGF-1 orally or in a spray.”

 

Infant botulism claims 6-month-old Tokyo boy who was fed honey

The Japan Times reports that a 6-month-old boy in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, died late last month of infant botulism after his family fed him honey, according to the metropolitan government.

Metropolitan officials said it was the first death caused by infant botulism in Japan since 1986, when the government began compiling such statistics.

The officials warned that babies younger than 1 should not be given honey.

They said the Adachi boy died March 30. He developed a cough on Feb. 16, and was taken to a hospital by ambulance on Feb. 20 after going into convulsions and suffering respiratory failure. He was diagnosed Feb. 28 as having infant botulism.

The officials said the boy’s family had been giving him honey mixed in juice twice a day for about a month, and that they were not aware babies should not be fed honey.

The bacteria Clostridium botulinum was found in an unsealed honey container in the family’s house and in the boy’s excrement. A public health center confirmed that the boy’s death was caused by botulism poisoning.

Infant botulism can occur when newborns, who have immature digestive systems, ingest bacteria that produces toxins inside the bowels.

 

3 sick with botulism in Spain and Germany linked to dried salted fish

Two cases of botulism in the province of Alicante and another in Germany linked to a brand of dried salted fish produced in The Netherlands has led to it being withdrawn from sale in various parts of Spain.

dried-roach-fish-salted-hanged-log-wall-drying-50980748Salted roach (rutilus rutilus, known in Spanish and branded as such in supermarkets asrutilo), stocked in refrigeration cabinets and bearing the identification number NL-6114-EG, distributed by Monolith Alimentos España Sur (in Valencia) and Norte (in Catalunya) has been taken off the shelves after two consumers in the province of Alicante reported having been apparently affected by the bug.

Both showed ‘very similar symptoms’, although it has yet to be confirmed whether they caught botulism from eating dried roach.

All supermarkets and delicatessens in the towns of Dénia, Altea, La Nucia, Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela and Alicante city have taken it off the shelves, as have those in the province of Castellón, Gandia (Valencia province) and Valencia city.

In Catalunya, shops in Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell (Barcelona province), Salou (Tarragona province) and Lleida have withdrawn it from sale.

The Spanish Consumer, Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, says it has received a European alert after a case of botulism in Germany thought to have been caused by the same product.