Six cases of botulism in Azerbaijan in January; linked to home pickled tomatoes

Last fall a neighbor told me about a how he was making kimchi, a fermented cabbage, carrot and onion concoction, in his kitchen. He wanted to pickle vegetables for health reasons and remembered what his grandmother had done.

His steps were fairly rudimentary, and a recipe for botulism: he put some vegetables into a mason jar, added some water, put the lid on it and tightened it as hard as it could go. Then he left it on the counter for a week.pickled-tomatoes_1472572c

According to AzerNews, home canned food has been linked to a death a handful of illnesses.

We are accustomed to hear about food poisoning in summertime and may neglect winter’s main danger – botulism -which may strike us down.

In the first month of this year, 64 cases of food poisoning were registered in Azerbaijan. The total number of victims of these poisoning cases reaches 92 people, said Imran Abdullayev, Head of Hygiene and Epidemiology Center Department of the Health Ministry.

Moreover, six cases of botulism were registered last month, which harmed nine people leaving one dead. The poisoning was due to homemade pickled tomatoes.

Everyone and especially those who love homemade pickles should remember storage precautions in winter.

The Centre of Hygiene and Epidemiology urges people to follow hygiene rules at home and buy food from reliable catering outlets and grocery stores to avoid food poisoning. Special attention should be paid to children’s’ nutrition.

To avoid food poisoning, one must simply follow hygiene rules at home and buy food in reliable catering outlets and grocery stores.

Prevention of botulism is simple: combining a refrigeration temperature with salt content and acidic conditions. This combination stops the growth of the bacteria and toxin.

Commercial canned goods are made by food business that require recipes to be evaluated for safety and receive inspections from food safety folks. Ingredients, acidity and canning processing procedures can all impact the safety of the final product.

Home canned are amongst the riskiest foods for botulism. In addition to botulism, acid tolerant pathogens such as E. coli O157 can persist in canned foods and lead to illnesses if the products aren’t processed correctly. The good folks at the National Center for Home Food Preservation has a massive database of recipes and processing times at