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Juice recall prompts the basics of botulism

You may be aware of the recent cases of botulism linked to bottled carrot juice. The first three cases were in Georgia, but this fourth case is in Florida. To date, one link appears to be that the juice was not properly refrigerated in the home. Food and Drug Administration is still investigating to see if there are other links.

FDA is warning consumers to not drink Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice, 450 ml and 1 liter plastic bottles, with "Best If Used By" dates of November 11, 2006 or earlier. Consumers should discard this product. FDA is also reiterating its advice to consumers to keep carrot juice including pasteurized carrot juice refrigerated.

Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium commonly found in soil. Under certain conditions these bacteria can produce a toxin that if ingested can result in botulism, a disease that may cause paralysis or death. Cases of botulism from processed food are extremely rare in the U.S.

The carrot juice is flash pasteurized which is not adequate to kill botulinum spores, and toxin may be produced if the product is not adequately refrigerated.

Symptoms of botulism can include: double-vision, droopy eyelids, altered voice, trouble with speaking or swallowing, and paralysis on both sides of the body that progresses from the neck down, possibly followed by difficulty in breathing. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Adequate refrigeration is one of the keys to food safety and is essential to preventing bacterial growth. Refrigerator temperatures should be no higher than 40 degrees F. and freezer temperatures no higher than 0 degrees F. Consumers should check the temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer.

Consumers should look for the words "Keep Refrigerated" on juice labels so they know which products must be kept refrigerated. FDA is looking into whether industry's current juice labels provide clear refrigeration instructions.

Foodborne botulism is caused by ingesting a toxin found in food and often involves improperly processed canned foods, foods that are allowed to spoil, or are not refrigerated properly. Following improper processing or handling, the bacteria found in contaminated food produces a toxin that could result in death. Symptoms of botulism usually appear 12 to 36 hours after ingestion, but may take several days. Botulism cannot be spread from person to person.

Web posted on Thursday, October 05, 2006

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