Oh No! Another Outbreak
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, October 2, 2006
From the FDA:
FDA Warns Consumers Not To Drink Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice Due to Botulism Concerns
In response to a fourth case of botulism being linked to Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, California brand carrot juice, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to drink Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice, 450 ml and 1 liter plastic bottles, with “BEST IF USED BY” dates of NOV 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.
The fourth case of botulism poisoning involves an adult female in Florida, who is currently suffering from paralysis. To date, one link between the illness and the consumers appears to be that the juice they drank was not properly refrigerated once it was in the home, which allowed the Clostridium botulinum spores to grow and produce toxin. FDA is investigating other possible links.
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.
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°F and freezer temperatures no higher then 0°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.
I am as tough as they come when it comes to the need for consumers to take responsibility for food safety. But one wonders if the margin of safety on some of these products isn’t too close.
The Pundit has enjoyed the Bolthouse product but wants to know, more exactly, how big a mistake on refrigeration is needed to cause a danger.