Botulism is the worst, avoid the old soup – Lost in translation edition

While most of the time the symptoms are identified and the illness diagnosed, I still think that botulism would be a terrible way to go. Paralysis, ventilator, life long impacts.

Florian Garcia of Le Parisien reports (and this has been translated, poorly) that outdated soup was to blame for a French woman’s botulism. I’m guessing there was some temperature control issues (like it came in a tetra pack and wasn’t refrigerated – or there was a processing failure) at the root of this, not the date thing.

soup, via wikipedia

“She is almost totally paralyzed, blows a friend of the family. And with very little hope of recovery. “A week and a half after a first malaise occurred late August, the health of this resident of Essonne has deteriorated significantly. After several days of hospitalization, the doctors of Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris diagnosed her case of botulism . A very rare disease, which she contracted by ingesting an outdated vegetable soup.

For the family, who does not want to express themselves, a vegetable soup is at the origin of the disease. In the fridge of the victim, several products call the investigators of the repression of frauds. Among them, a soup with a deadline of consumption (DLC) August 4 … outdated for three weeks.

“We took this information very seriously and immediately put ourselves at the disposal of the authorities, details the brand of soup incriminated. No problem was reported on the 630 bottles of the lot that have been sold and consumed since. “

According to her, the negligence was therefore committed by the consumer. “Given the incubation period, three days according to the National Health Security Agency (ANSES), the date of hospitalization of the patient, end of August, and the deadline for consumption of the product, August 4 , it turned out that the sick person has consumed an expired product, “says the company.

Given the severity of the disease, the company’s production method was scrutinized. “We were able to demonstrate that all the manufacturing operations were done in the state of the art,” added the spokesperson. It is a pasteurized soup and like all products of this type, it is heated above 80 ° C. This guarantees pasteurization but not sterilization. It must therefore be kept cool and consumed within a maximum of 30 days. Beyond this DLC, the freshness of a product of this type can not be guaranteed. “

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.