Botulism Just a Scare?

legsbigAugust 20, 2006

n the United States an average of 110 cases of botulism are reported each year. Of these, approximately 25% are foodborne, 72% are infant botulism, and the rest are wound botulism. Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more persons occur most years and usually caused by eating contaminated home-canned foods.

This basically says around 30 people per year die of Botulism in the USA. Which is practically nil.

I'd say wash your hands and ==== put your peppers in a sterile jar through run thrugh a water bath,

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john47_johnf(Maine z4/5)

Unless you happen to be one of them. Another possibility would be to become very sick and not actually die.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 9:59AM
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legsbig

im going to be as absolutely careful as i can and sterilize eevrything to be extra careful. But it does sit well with me knowing that you are approximately 3x more likely to get struck by lightning than to get botulism.

russian roulette anyone?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 10:41AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

The reason there are so few fatalities from botulism is not a matter of chance. It is because nearly all home canners scrupulously follow methods and recipes known to be safe, i.e. laboratory tested and approved by the USDA. The fatalities occur among the risk takers, who follow their own methods, and their unfortunate friends and families. Such methods don't guarantee you will die, they just make it a possibility.

If you want to check the safety of a home canning recipe or method, consult Linda Lou at the Harvest forum.

Jim

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 10:57PM
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ucovinero(7 Atlanta, GA)

Not only that, but most experienced canners or sauce makers are well aware of what signs to look for that could indicate botulism. Visual signs, aromatic signs(i use my nose to tell me when i should give up on a sauce within a month of starting a mash, you grow to learn what smells right)...But it would surley be a shame to die from this so precautions should definately be taken.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 11:41PM
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legsbig

so botulism bacteria is rare in habanero mash though? ill sterilze the jars and peppers anyway but i will only be letting them age with salt

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 2:17PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

The majority of cases are from not sterilizing jars or trying to preserve in garlic oil

OT but if you want something scary, in 2005, 2992 people died because of the WRONG precription strength of methadone ordered by Doctors.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 3:06PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

A few facts for your consideration:

Your nose can detect bacterial spoilage. Botulism, which is not necessarily associated with spoilage, has no odor.

Botulism thrives in an anaerobic environment.

Botulism spores can survive boiling temperatures.

High Scoville values don't kill bacteria.

There are ways of processing food safely, including fermentation. "Common sense" doesn't work too well with microbiology. Study up a bit, so you know what you are doing. Don't depend on luck.

Jim

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 3:26PM
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legsbig

if boiling and high scovilles dont deterr botulism then how come all these people aren't dying of it

what should i do special to my jars of habanero mash

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 4:30PM
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ucovinero(7 Atlanta, GA)

Hey Jim, Been doing this for quite awhile now. Let me assure you for the last time its not luck buddy. My comment on taking signs was not limited to the smell. Read again if you dont understand. " Some people just cant be told anything I guess" But hey Jim...you do things your way and I the same. Im sure attempting to "correct" me is something that makes you feel wonderful inside but dont try and give advice to someone that you should probably take it from.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 4:50PM
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ucovinero(7 Atlanta, GA)

Let me sum all of my replies up into one personal opinion so there is no confusion for those who feed off of disagreement..."No, botulism is not just a scare" From my experience I've never come across it other than canned tomatoes which were very apparently botulised just from "LOOKING" through the container itself. Jim, perhaps you should read up yourself. I wont go as far as saying you're wrong but I will say that you're not right...lol.

http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC3680.htm

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 5:09PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Sorry I offended you, uconinero. My posts weren't directed at you personally, even though they may have appeared that way. I wasn't trying to straighten you out. Just trying to contribute some useful, on topic information to the thread.

That last remark puzzles me though. I hope you don't mind my asking, but are you saying that botulism in a jar of tomatoes can be detected by visual inspection?

Jim

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 5:50PM
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ucovinero(7 Atlanta, GA)

Sure am.

Obviously the botulism bacteria can not be seen without a microscope. However the only time its harmful to us is when its allowed to form culture and create a toxin. At this point it CAN be seen.C. botulinum and its spores are everywhere. It is prevalent in soil and water worldwide. The bacteria and spores themselves are harmless; however, when they grow, they create a highly toxic poison that can lead to extreme illness and even death. read here> http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC3680.htm

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 6:33PM
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shelbyguy(z5 IL)

you only have to have a foodborne illness once....ONCE...before you learn to take precautions.

once youve felt like your feet are turning inside out and coming out your mouth, you practice safe food prep.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 3:48PM
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legsbig

so is washing rinsing jars, washing rinsing peppers, putting peppers and salt in a 1pint mason jar, closing it, then boiling it in a 20 minute water bath safe enough?

im talking about chinense peppers

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 7:36PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Unfortunately IMO, it is not possible to safely process peppers in a boiling water bath, unless they have added acidity to prevent the growth of botulinum in the jar. Remember, botulinum likes an anaerobic environment such as a sealed canning jar. This may be counterintuitive, which is the reason I warn against using off-the-top-of-the-head canning methods. An open jar is actually safer, in terms of botulism, than a sealed one. But of course, the open jar is subject to spoilage and we don't want that either.

I say unfortunately, but that is only if you don't want marinated or pickled chiles (chiles en escabeche). If you don't mind adding sufficient acid (e.g. vinegar or lemon juice), a boiling water bath will be safe. If you want low acid canned veggies of any kind, you must use a pressure canner to get temperatures well above 212F.

The link below provides exact instructions which are proven safe, for both boiling water and pressure canning. Look in the chapter for pickled vegetables to find the boiling water method for chiles. For any doubters, let me say once again that improper processing does not guarantee illness or death, it just leaves it to chance.

Jim

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Food Preservation

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 8:28PM
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legsbig

im talking about straight habanero peppers... i have talked to people who have been making mash like this for 20 years..... and no my jar isn't sealed air tight, just closed.... from what i hear the habanero pepper isn't prone to that type of botulism

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 10:21PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

It wasn't clear to me at first what you were seeking in this thread, legsbig. But it's becoming clearer now. From some of the things you said I thought you were talking about canning or preserving chiles in this thread and talking about fermentation of a mash in the other thread. Now it seems that what you really wanted to know about is the same in both threads and that is fermentation.

The difference between the two is that in canning, you aim to prevent growth of any microbes while in fermentation, you deliberately cultivate certain ones.

There are several types of fermentation. Some are desireable such as yeast fermentation of grape juice to make wine, bacterial fermentation of wine to make vinegar, bacterial fermentation of milk to make yogurt and bacterial fermentation of cabbage to make sauerkraut. Undesirable types of fermentation are ones which cause decay and spoilage.

To make a chile pepper mash, I believe you specifically want a lactic acid fermentation, since that is the type used in all vegetable fermentation that I know of. To achieve that, you need to establish conditions favorable to the growth of that bacteria and conditions which will discourage growth of yeast and unwanted types of bacteria. This is done by adding the correct amount of salt to the mash and adjusting pH to a suitable level if necessary.

The article linked below is rigorous and will explain all of this better than I can. Just remember that you are trying to nurture the lactic acid bacteria and discourage all other microbes.

I hope you find this useful and are successful in making what you want.

Jim

Here is a link that might be useful: Bacterial Fermentations

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:42AM
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