Botulism outbreak linked to canned chili sauce
CDC researchers have traced an outbreak of type A foodborne botulism in Texas, Indiana and Ohio to commercially produced canned hot dog chili sauce.
“Botulism attributed to commercially canned foods is rare,” they wrote in Clinical Infectious Diseases. “Proper commercial canning, owing to the controlled temperature and processing time, renders food commercially sterile [including Clostridium botulinum].”
Health officials in Texas and Indiana reported four possible cases of the disease in July 2007. Eight confirmed cases were identified: two from Indiana, three from Texas and three from Ohio. CDC investigators, along with investigators with the Texas, Indiana and Ohio health departments, reviewed the medical charts and food histories of the patients. They also tested clinical specimens and food samples.
The botulinum toxin type A was found in leftover Castleberry hot dog chili sauce that had been consumed by all of the patients the day before illness onset. The cannery that produced the sauce was inspected, and the investigators identified violations to the federal canned-food regulations that may have allowed C. botulinum spores to survive during the sterilization process. The company recalled 39 million cans of the chili sauce.
“Although rare, deficiencies in the canning process are a major public health concern because of the severity of botulism, especially when the implicated canned product is widely distributed,” the researchers wrote. “Manufacturers must comply with canned food regulations and remain diligent to ensure that their products are safe.”
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.