How to kill botulism spores?

love2trollFebruary 12, 2008

Temps of 240°F

What else?

Freezing?

A certain pH?

Dehydrating?

Grapefruit seed extract?

Alcohol?

Chemicals?

Irradiation?

jt

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Most all of the above. The most common one is pressure canning at 240 degrees, then vinegar based brines, as well as adding acid to things like tomatoes. As to grapefuit seed extract, have no idea about that. Alcohol is OK, provided its added after a heat process. Chemicals like sulfur are OK for some items, but these are usually dried things that already have a high acidity, and sulfur is used to reduce oxidation, similar to ascorbic acid. Unless you have a reactor handy, I doubt if you could do any irradiation at home. [grin]

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 1:38PM
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love2troll

Hi Ken,

I'm not talking about the toxins, but the spores that produce the toxins.
You would not believe the hours I spent trying to pin specifics down.

> I doubt if you could do any irradiation at home. [grin]

I've misplaced my copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook", but maybe instructions were in there?

Especially I would like to know if low pH does any damage.

Toxins multiply in an anaerobic environment. All anaerobic environments? Like in CO2?

jt

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 2:37PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

In the standard home canning process it's a combination of time, acid and temp. More acid and you would need less time and temperature. More temp needs less acid and time. More time needs less acid and temp.

At 250 degrees processing times are in the five to ten minute range. At 220 degrees you may have to process for days.

Zeuspaul

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 2:42PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

Toxins multiply in an anaerobic environment.

No, not quite right. The toxins do not multiply. The toxins are produced by the bacteria when the bacteria are multiplying. The bacterium, Clostridium botulinum cannot grow in the presence of oxygen. It can grow in CO2, at least low levels, I would have to look up how high the level they can tolerate.

The spores are produced by the bacteria when they are in conditions where they cannot grow. The spores are an "alternative life form" for the bacteria - a way for the bacteria to go into a dormant state that is resistant to many environmental assaults.

The spores are incredibly resistant to a large number of conditions. Viable spores have been recovered from ceramic pots that are thousands of years old. For a very interesting story about another closely related spore, Bacillus anthracis, causative agent of anthrax, do a web search for "Gruinard Island".

Spores can survive 5 hours in boiling water, but can be inactivated in 4 minutes in an autoclave which provides pressurized steam (121°C, 15 psi). Yes, acid and radiation affect spores and in combination can inactivate them, but the conditions required are very stringent. I don't have time right now, but could look up some info later if you want.

Ann (I am a microbiologist and teach medical students about spores)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 2:50PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I am curious as to why you want to know. Are you trying to invent a new canning procedure or what ?
People want to know why I am so adament on using proper preservation methods, not changing things, etc. I think Ann has described it very well as to why. Thank you , Ann.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 4:15PM
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love2troll

> I am curious as to why you want to know. Are you trying to invent a new canning procedure or what ?

No, not trying to invent a new canning procedure. And I can understand why some of the regulars here probably don't like my crazy ideas. I honestly don't want to be controversial, but I do want to know the 'whys and hows' of what we do for safe preserving.

I'm open to new ideas.

Time for me to say 'adieu' here and I will miss most of you.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 5:41PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I do want to know the 'whys and hows' of what we do for safe preserving.

I can understand the desire to know the 'whys and wherefores' behind a policy. We all share that desire to a degree. But is this an appropriate place to get that info? I think not. This is a public forum on how to safely home preserve our garden harvest. We aren't scientists. We don't do the research. Perhaps going to one of the sources that does all the testing and research would be the thing to do.

Unfortunately I also recognize that sometimes the desire to debate issues such as this, in a forum such as this, often stems from a desire to BE controversial. So if you seek to understand the reasons for the rules and regs of safe home canning and preserving, then go to the source of them. ;)

Dave

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 6:04PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

On forums there are bound to be differing philosphies and points of disagreement. As long as the discourse is civil, there's nothing to be gained by opting out.

One of the best ways for the layperson to learn the whys and hows of safe preserving is to become a master food preserver. Many states do offer the program through Extension. A free online home food preservation course can be found at the NCHFP and many NCHFP studies and research documents can also be accessed via searches.

Forums, even relatively "conservative" ones like Harvest, are not the optimal source of scientific information. They're too random. Nuggets of information appear within a morass of redundancies, inaccuracies, exaggerations and self-promotions. Evidentiary protocols do not apply.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 6:55PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

***Spores can survive 5 hours in boiling water, but can be inactivated in 4 minutes in an autoclave which provides pressurized steam (121°C, 15 psi). Yes, acid and radiation affect spores and in combination can inactivate them, but the conditions required are very stringent.***

One might ask the question why a boiling water bath for tomatoes passes muster with the USDA. It seams like the more conservative approach would be to process at the higher temperatures ( 121°C/250°F, 15 psi) in a pressure canner.

Zeuspaul

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 9:50AM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

Because at that point you are not trying to kill the spores, you are trying to kill the bacteria that can become spores. The bacteria themselves are killed relatively easily. However if the bacteria are not killed, and are put into an anaerobic environment (such as a sealed jar), they can produce the toxin and they can become spores.

I am a microbiologist, but I am not a food safety expert, so if I am wrong on this I hope Linda Lou or another will correct me.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 10:28AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

If we're still speaking of botulism, an acid environment is not congenial to the bacteria. When citric acid, for example, is added to tomatoes per current instructions, the product is sufficiently acid to pass muster for a boiling water bath (4.6 pH or below).

Many sources do recommend pressure canning anyway as the preferred processing method. However, it's not a safety issue. Pressure canning yields a better quality tomato product.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 1:09PM
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irene_ojcw_googlemail_com

Home-canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce risk of contamination. Foods canned at home should be boiled for ten minutes prior to consumption.

Here is a link that might be useful: Child Wiki - Botulism

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 4:26AM
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paulm321_yahoo_com

ok let e get this straight...........1.botulism bacteria dies at boiling, 2. botulism toxin dies (or denatures i guess we shoulkd say) at 185F, and 3. botulism spores die at 250F.........so, if I want to preserve FRESH chile peppers in oil, why can't I saute/pan fry the chiles in oil, and then move all contents to a mason jar...and then just to be sure, submerged the cealed jar under boiling water for 15 minutes???

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 9:46AM
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paulm321_yahoo_com

just to be clear w/ my above post.... sauteing/pan frying should bring all contents to well above 250F.............

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 9:50AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Because temperature isn't the only factor. It is TIME at temperature as well as moisture content and available O2 levels (or lack there of) that controls the survival/proliferation/death of botulium.

If indeed your fried peppers reached 250 degrees (which is doubtful since the moisture in them would be boiling and exploding them) keeping them there for sufficient time to kill the spores would result in nothing but char.

Please follow the guidelines for safety.

Dave

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 10:21AM
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paulm321_yahoo_com

Dave, For years I have been doing this w/no ill side effects so let me explain what I do further and then I have a couple questions as this is all making me concerned...
as I said previously, I saute/pan fry fresh, finely chopped chile peppers/habaneros/etc. for approx. half hour in a pot of olive oil...then I transfer pepper contents to a ball jar and seal...(the excess oil I transfer to its own container to spice up dishes with a small dousing of this hot oil every now and then)...after letting the jars cool a bit, I then boil said jars for approx half an hour...

Now, if what I do is completely incorrect, before opening a new jar (I have them back to 2008), why can I not simply just boil the jars prior to opening...it seems this would kill/denature the toxin, and since I refrigerate once opened, any remainnig spores shouldnt really be able to produce new toxin to harm me...any addtl info would be great....thank for your help dave, Paul

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 10:13AM
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paulm321_yahoo_com

Dave, For years I have been doing this w/no ill side effects so let me explain what I do further and then I have a couple questions as this is all making me concerned...
as I said previously, I saute/pan fry fresh, finely chopped chile peppers/habaneros/etc. for approx. half hour in a pot of olive oil...then I transfer pepper contents to a ball jar and seal...(the excess oil I transfer to its own container to spice up dishes with a small dousing of this hot oil every now and then)...after letting the jars cool a bit, I then boil said jars for approx half an hour...
Now, if what I do is completely incorrect, before opening a new jar (I have them back to 2008), why can I not simply just boil the jars prior to opening...it seems this would kill/denature the toxin, and since I refrigerate once opened, any remainnig spores shouldnt really be able to produce new toxin to harm me...any addtl info would be great....thank for your help dave, Paul

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 3:36PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

All I can say is you are playing with roulette. Oil will shut off oxygen supply and let botulism grow in the absence of air.... it surrounds the cells of the food and the heat will not kill botulism. It is like a blanket where it coats the food and it can survive.
Please, stop this dangerous practice. It has been so long that even boiling the food would not insure all toxin would be destroyed. It gets to that point and nothing you do can insure it is safe to eat.
I guess I do not understand why you are willing to take this serious risk.
Not even considering home preserved foods, just average food consumption, at least 8 people die in the US daily from various form of food poisoning.. learned that yesterday at a seminar put on by the American Dietetic Association.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 6:04PM
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Ian_on_the_Trent(5a)

How much of a safety factor is built into the recommended processing times? The times provided in various modern canning books tend to be very sweeping in some ways yet specific in others. For example, vegetable pressure-canner processing times range from asparagus (25min) to whole kernel corn (55 min). Yet dried beans processing times don't very except for container size.

If I understand correctly, the goal is to get the internal temperature of the item to 240deg (achieved by venting your canner completely and bringing the pressure to 10psi @STP) I've read on some websites that only 4 minutes at the 240deg temperature is required to kill the spores. I suspect then that the different cooking times reflect the ability of the food item to internally transfer heat throughout the entire container (I understand this is largely due to density, plant chemistry, and the cell structure).

So if my understanding is accurate, there should be different cooking times for dried beans based on:

1. bean density/moisture content.
2. size of the bean.
3. type of bean.

Yes, it is much safer to make a generic recommendation and err on the side of safety. This said, unnecessary processing reduces the quality of the product. So I undertook an experiment:

Last week, I processed a full canner load (18 * pint/500ml jars) of red kidney, turtle, and garbanzo beans. I vented vigourously for 10 minutes, and processed for 75 minutes at 11-13pounds. Tasting the beans the next day, I found them all to be way too soft. As well, the intergrity of each bean suffered (splitting, disintergrating, colour change).

Today I did another load of the same beans but processed them for 60 minutes instead of the recommended 75min. The results:

1. The turtle beans texture and appearance in the jar was very close to commercially canned beans. And they tasted just the same.

2. Red kidney beans were softer than commercial products but looked the same.

3. Garbanzo beans were a wee bit harder compared to commercially canned beans but similar in firmness to non-canned samples. Appearance wise they were similar to the commercial products.

Each of the beans exhibited different results from processing. These leads me to think that USDA should develop bean-specific processing times. Does anyone know what commercial canners do?

And how much extra processing time is required to go say from a safety confidence level of 99.99% to 99.9999%

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:03PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You are taking a risk by not processing for the full time.
If you want them firm, then don't cut down on the time, but add Calcium Chloride aka Pickle Crisp. Check the commercial cans, they have it in there to keep them firm. That is how the commercial industry does it. It does work.
Easily available to buy Pickle Crisp in most areas.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:46PM
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Ian_on_the_Trent(5a)

Thank you for the tip on calcium chloride.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:24PM
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studiodon1

I see that chili peppers can contain Botulism Spores. Does anyone know about Bell Peppers? Are they in the same class? I make a Pepper Jam from Bell Peppers and Jalapeno Peppers and the only thing the local Health Dept has flagged is the Jalapeno Peppers.. I have been making this recipe for years... Should I be concerned?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 4:20AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes bell peppers are the same. There are tested and approve Pepper jelly recipes. Most include added acid to make them safe. The safety of your's all depends on the recipe you use.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP Peppers - Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:07AM
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NilaJones(7b)

Note: The following is pure speculation.

I expect a lot of this stuff has to do with probabilities, population, and communication medium.

Someone mentioned on another forum that her friend from Turkey, I think it was, uses a technique that is traditional there. She fills a jar with tomatoes, drops in a lighted match, quickly screws on the lid, and lets the flame evacuate the jar. That's it. No water bath.

The question was: Is this safe?

It reminded me of an old Car Talk episode, where a guy calls in to ask about his former-Yugoslavian neighbor's habit of eschewing jumper cables and starting one car battery from another by flipping the battery upside down and touching the terminals together. Car Talk dude, without missing a beat, said, 'Well, compared to living in Yugoslavia, it's safe.' (That was when the war was a more recent memory.)

Say some weird-ass preservation method has a one in a million chance of killing you. In Turkey back in the day, or Yugoslavia under the Soviets, that might have meant one death in five years, for the whole country. And, before newspapers and public health reporting you might have never heard of that one death, or it might have been misattributed to some other cause.

But nowadays, a one in a million chance is considered far too risky to recommend. That could be hundreds of deaths a year in the US alone.

So, yeah, this method with the peppers hasn't killed you yet, and maybe it never will. But it might kill the next guy.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Rick37

I plan to add olive oil, garlic and herbs as a mixture to be used solely in an oven at 350 for approx. 1/2 hr. I plan to store this mixture in the frig and to be consumed in approx one month. Should I be concerned?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:35AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

FACTS ABOUT BOTULISM:

Botulism, sounds like some scary thing that is killing people right and left every minute. Food botulism Botulism is very rare in USA, according to CDC, as link given below. Here are some quick quotes:

>>>How common is botulism?

In the United States, an average of 145 cases are reported each year.Of these, approximately 15% are foodborne, 65% are infant botulism, and 20% are wound. Adult intestinal colonization and iatrogenic botulism also occur, but rarely. Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more persons occur most years and are usually caused by home-canned foods. Most wound botulism cases are associated with black-tar heroin injection, especially in California. Look at the numbers given above: 145 case in ALL USA ( 300 million people) in the course ONE YEAR,
of which ONLY 15% is foodborne.
THAT IS 22 CASES, in a whole year among 300 million population and even then not every single case resulted in death either. That is less than one in more than 10,000,000. per year.

We need to put things into perspective and organize our priorities. Nobody is suggesting to be careless when it comes to any safety and health matter but spreading germ phobia is another thing.
More about Botulism:
Its bacterium is mainly soil borne. It exists (can exist) in all root crops like carrots, potatoes, beets, onions more than others. We consume all of those almost everyday without heating them to over 240F. It is the spores of the bacterium that is poison, not the bacterium itself. And the spores will become ineffective at 185F, in 10 minutes. So all you have to do is reheat any canned food (bring to boiling temp) for 10 minutes or so, just to be on the safe side.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 12:05PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

So all you have to do is reheat any canned food (bring to boiling temp) for 10 minutes or so, just to be on the safe side.

Or you can just do it right way in the first place and then you don't have to worry about it. Not to mention that many canned foods are not boiled or even cooked after canning but are eaten fresh from the jar.

It is the spores of the bacterium that is poison, not the bacterium itself.

No, it is the toxins produced by the bacteria as it creates the endospores that is the "poison". The toxin is neutralized by boiling. It does not kill or neutralize the endospores themselves.

Endospores are small, protective capsules that surround the bacteria. They can withstand incredible extremes of temperature. The C. botulinum endospore can survive several hours at 212ðF (100ðC, the boiling point of water) and 10 minutes at 248ðF (120ðC). C. botulinum endospores also can survive at -374ðF (-226ðC). The endospores can even resist radiation. The botulism endospore is one of the most hardy organisms on Earth.

Botulism - Clostridium Botulinum

Dave

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 12:48PM
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