Botulism in Companeros enchiladas … in France

I didn’t know French people had discovered enchiladas, and much less those you can buy in the grocery store. That’s one food I often crave when traveling for an extended period in France, and it’s my standby order at my first visit to any Mexican restaurant. But obviously someone in France is buying enchiladas because two people are now reported in serious but stable condition in a French hospital after eating Companeros brand chicken enchiladas. Several of the national ministries have issued a recall of all enchilada and fajita products from Companeros, regardless of the expiration date. Apparently the source of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria is not yet completely identified as the recall requests that people do not discard the meals. Instead, they should be returned to the store so that further analysis can take place.

In case you’re paranoid, like I am, about getting botulism or other illnesses, there are a few facts you should know…

  • Symptoms occur on average between 6 and 36 hours (and not more than 15 days) after consumption of the contaminated food
  • Botulism can cause serious complications such as paralysis and death
  • Common symptoms include difficulty swallowing or speaking, facial weakness, double vision, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and paralysis 
  • Botulism commonly grows at room temperature in an anaerobic environment – that means when food is deprived of air. Risky foods include potatoes left in aluminum foil at room temperature
  • In 2006, 7 people were stricken due to botulism in bottled carrot juice
  • Botulism cannot be transmitted between humans

Check out the FDA’s Bad Bug Book for more detailed botulism information.