Welcome to the Food Borne Disease Site. The sources of the foodborne illness pathogens are ubiquitous. Food and food products will always be contaminated with low levels of pathogens. At low levels, pathogenic microorganisms cause no problems. At illness thresholds, however, they can make people ill and cause death.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Clostridium botulinum in food

Clostridium botulinum is a rod shaped, spore forming anaerobic bacteria. It is causative agent of botulism (foodborne intoxication). Some of the notable characteristics are its heat-resistant spore and their widespread distribution.

Some strains of Clostridium botulinum are psychotropic. The spores produced by Clostridium botulinum are themselves harmless: they can remain dormant in soil or on food for years.

The spores will survive most thermal processes except those specifically designed to eliminate them (e.g., 12D thermal processing of low-acid canned foods). If such a process is not used, one must assume that spore are present in the food.

The trouble comes when the spires start to germinate. This can happen only in the absence of oxygen, in air tight environments – whether in home canned foodstuffs or in commercially produced vacuum sealed cans or plastic packages.

If the food is to be packaged in an anaerobic or reduced oxygen atmosphere, measures to inhibit the growth and toxin production the organism are necessary.

Strict temperature control prevents the growth of Clostridium botulinum. It produces a delay toxin but does not grow and produce toxin below 10°C and under pH 4.6.

Sole reliance on refrigeration to ensure safety is risky. Botulism is caused by neurotoxin produced Clostridium botulinum during growth in foods.

The toxin cause the most lethal of the food poisoning disease. Despite the fact that the organisms are strict anaerobes, they are common in soil, marine sediments and fresh water mud.

Botulism affects the nervous system, presenting as fatigue, double vision, slurred speech, and respiratory failure. Severe cases can cause death.
Clostridium botulinum in food
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