Can you boil away botulism

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Can you boil away botulism?” We will also discuss What is botulism, What are its major symptoms, who is at high risk of having botulism as well as the recommended precautions to avoid listeriosis

Can you boil away botulism?

Yes, you can boil away botulism, this serious life-threatening illness that is triggered by the toxins released by Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria are resistant to high temperatures, however, they can be killed by pasteurization for 2min at 70°C. Whereas the toxin produced by this bacteria is heat-labile and is rapidly inactivated by boiling for a minimum of 5 minutes at a temperature of 80-85°C. 

On the other hand, the most stubborn and dangerous form of this bacteria is the botulism spores are highly resistant to heat and can only be destroyed once heated under pressure for 3 min at a temperature between 115°C -121°C and not in simple normal boiling water.

Clostridium botulinumBacteriaToxinsSpores
Boiling time2 minutes5 minutes3 minutes
Temperature70 °C 80-85°C. 115°C -121°C

So if you are concerned about your and your family’s health and safety and want to know more about botulism, then this article is a must-read so let us start.

What is botulism?

Botulism is a serious paralytic fatal form of food poisoning that is caused by consuming food contaminated by Clostridium botulinum bacteria toxins.

 These bacteria are normally found in soil, raw fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish as well as on other surfaces. The moist anaerobic environment creates a suitable medium for Clostridium botulinum bacteria growth as dormant spores and quick proliferation.

Food contamination by botulinum bacteria leads to botulism and fatal consequences, therefore certain precautions should be followed when preparing food regarding boiling away this resistant bacteria. 

Based on these special traits and features, improper home-canned food is considered to be an adequate medium for clostridium bacterial contamination growth and proliferation without any visible signs neither in the look nor in the smell of the food.

 What are the major symptoms of botulism?

Botulism is caused by Clostridium botulinum bacteria toxins that mainly affect the nervous system. These toxins usually cause several symptoms that begin to appear in principle 12-36 hours after consumption and in rare cases directly after 6 hours or even 2 weeks such as

  • Blurred vision
  • Vertigo
  • Drooping eyelids and flaccid paralysis 
  • Dry mouth and difficulties in swallowing and speech
  • Fatigue, neck and arms muscle weakness 
  • Paralysis
  • Respiratory failure and breathing difficulties
  • Abdominal swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation 
  • Death  5 – 10%

Who is at high risk of having botulism?

Due to the nature and presence of C. botulinum, this foodborne botulism affects people after ingestion of contaminated food, thus it is not contagious and the disease can not spread from one person to another.

However certain people are considered to be highly vulnerable to clostridium bacteria infection and are at higher risk of developing serious symptoms of botulism such as

  • People with immunodeficiency regardless of age and cause whether it was a disease, leukemia, AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney or liver disease)
  • People taking immunosuppressant medication(cortisone or prednisone) as organ transplant patients 
  • Young children
  • Elderly individuals  ( above 65-70 years)
  • Pregnant women
  • Developing fetus
  • Newborn

For more detailed guidance, please click the link here

What are the recommended precautions to avoid listeriosis?

It is highly recommended if you belong to any of the categories listed above and are at high risk of having botulism to follow these precautions to limit or reduce your risk of getting infected:

  • Always follow safety and hygiene measures by cleaning properly your hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces prior preparing, storing, and handling food as well as after contact with raw meat and seafood
  • Avoid eating canned foods, undercooked and raw food from unknown sources or origins that have a higher risk of botulinum bacteria, toxin, and spores contamination 
  • Inspect home and commercially canned food products before use and avoid using those that show growth of gas-producing bacteria such as bulged or damaged lids and any form of leakage
  • Use a pressure cooker for the proper time, temperature, and pressure to ensure boiling away clostridium bacteria and spores Avoid eating raw vegetables, meat, seafood, and eggs
  • Always consume freshly cooked and well-washed newly prepared fruit and vegetables
  • Cook or boil your vegetable and meat foods properly and thoroughly under pressure to kill not only the bacteria but also spores and toxin
  • Refrigerated or freeze vacuum-packaged meats for proper storage and extended usage.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “Can you boil away botulism?” We have also discussed What is botulism, What are its major symptoms, who is at high risk of having botulism as well as the recommended precautions to avoid listeriosis.

Hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/botulism-alaska-foods.html

https://ucanr.edu/sites/MFPOC/Emergency/Botulism/

https://www.fsai.ie/faq/botulism.html

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.