Danger From Botulism: Cleanliness Is The Be-All And End-All When Preserving

The canning of fruit, vegetables, and other foods has enjoyed increasing popularity again in recent years. This preservation method allows special offers and the garden’s own harvest to be creatively processed. You can also save a lot of waste. However, a lot can go wrong when cooking. In the worst case, dangerous botulism germs spread in the food.

What is botulism?

Botulism is a rare but very serious poisoning. It is triggered by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which mainly multiplies in protein-rich foods and in the absence of air. It finds optimal conditions for reproduction in canned foods.

The spores of the bacterium are widespread and can be found on vegetables, honey, or cheese, for example. It only becomes dangerous when the spores begin to germinate in the vacuum. They now produce botulinum toxin (Botox), a poison that can lead to nerve damage, paralysis of the body, and even death.

However, the Robert Koch Institute classifies the risk of becoming infected from self-preserved food as low. The risk can also be almost completely ruled out by working properly.

Safe preserving and pickling

To prevent toxins from forming, food must be heated to over one hundred degrees. For physical reasons, this is not possible with conventional household cooking. Therefore, be sure to pay attention to the following points:

  • Work very cleanly and sterilize the jars carefully.
  • Cover wounds as Botox germs can get in through them.
  • Boil protein-rich vegetables such as beans or asparagus twice within 48 hours.
  • Maintain a temperature of 100 degrees.
  • Store preserves at room temperature between preserving sessions.

Herbs and spices preserved in oil also pose a risk of botulism. Therefore, do not produce herbal oils in large quantities and always store them in the refrigerator. Consume the products promptly. If you want to be on the safe side, you should heat the oil before consumption.

Prevent botulism

Bought, vacuum-packed food can also pose a risk. The Botox toxin is tasteless. For this reason, you should definitely observe the following rules:

  • Gases have formed in bulging cans, so-called bombings. Dispose of them and do not eat the contents under any circumstances.
  • Store vacuum-packed food at temperatures below eight degrees. Check the temperature in your fridge with a thermometer.
  • If possible, heat canned foods containing protein to 100 degrees for 15 minutes. This destroys the botox toxin.
  • Do not give honey to children under the age of one, as it may contain spores of the bacterium.
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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