anthrax preparedness

How to prevent Botulism

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Botulism can be spread in different ways. Above learn how the bacterial spores
which cause Botulism are common in both soil and water.

Happy endings...
Now that you know a bit more about botulism and the methods of
transmission, symptoms and signs, diagnosis and treatment, you can
be aware and possibly save a life. While rare and fatal, the good and
happy news regarding botulism is that it can not be passed from
person to person with skin contact, provided there are no open

If you learned one thing from this article that could save your life it
is this: if you decide to process low acid vegetables, then avoid the
water bath canning method. Get yourself a
pressure canner or
dehydrator instead. That's how you can prepare to live happily ever

Related articles
Now that you have an overview about everything a prepper needs to
know about Botulism, including Botulism and canning, the differences
between Botulism and food poisoning, and how to avoid Botulism or
care for a patient in survival times, you can read further. See the
related articles below on bioterrorism, canning and more).

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disease. For any health or dietary matter, always consult your physician. This information is
intended for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice
or treatment for specific medical conditions. Never disregard or delay in seeking medical
advice when available.

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Above Kansas State shares tips for preventing botulism in home-canned

Here is an overview of how preppers can prevent botulism:

#1: Ensure proper hygiene in the kitchen.
Proper washing and handling of food can go a long way toward
prevention of botulism. It's easy to comply with proper hygiene in
four ways:
  1. Clean. Wash hands and surfaces often. Be aware that soap
    with an antibacterial component can help.
  2. Separate. Don't contaminate! Instead, preppers can
    separate raw and cooked foods during preparation.
  3. Cook. Cook foods thoroughly and to proper temperatures. In
    preserving foods, not that a pressure canner ensures you
    reach beyond boiling water and this will help you avoid
    botulism. In serving low-acid foods that have been canned,
    be sure to bring the food to a boil
  4. Chill. Store foods at safe temperatures, and refrigerate
    promptly when applicable.

#2: Be extremely careful in home canning.
Home canned and fermented foods require extra precautions to
avoid botulism. Generally, avoid canning low-acid foods (and if
you must, use a pressure canner)!For preppers, the highest risk
of Botulism is in water bath canning of low acid foods. It is
critical to know the proper canning products to use.

  • Know when to use a pressure canner and a water bath

  • A PRESSURE CANNER is ideal for low-acid foods. Low acid
    foods must be canned at significantly high temperatures.  
    Temperatures must be above boiling water! In cooking under
    pressure, you can increase the temperature of boiling water
    from 100°C (212°F) up to 116oC (240o F). Two excellent
    pressure canners are the All American Pressure
    Cooker/Canner, pictured immediate right; and the Presto
    Deluxe Pressure Canner, pictured lower right. Root
    vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood require a pressure

  • A WATER BATH CANNER is okay for high-acid foods.
    High-acid foods naturally are resistant to bacteria. Do NOT
    use a boiling water canner for low acid foods -ever!  Don't
    process low-acid vegetables using a boiling water bath
    method because Botulinum spores can survive such a
    method! In short, a water bath canner is good only for high
    acid foods, including fruits, fruit juices, jams, jellies and
    other fruit spreads, pickles, relishes, chutneys, sauces,
    vinegars and condiments.

  • Do NOT can low acid foods using the water bath method,
  1. asparagus
  2. beets
  3. corn
  4. green beans
  5. potatoes (instead, try dehydrating them)
  6. tomatoes (an extremely high risk, low acid food).
    Sometimes salsas and tomatoes with added acid can be
    canned in a water bath canner;however, it is not
    without a measure of acution.

    Hint: Pay attention to the acids in foods ~ pH strips can

  • Know when to use brines and vinegars, sugars, or alcohol
    to preserve foods in canning.

  • Know it is never safe to home-can butter.

#3: Be mindful in the consumption of canned goods
on the risks.
Whether you're about to enjoy home-canned good or a
commercially canned product, be mindful of the risks. Set your
concerns of fear mongering aside. It's not a question of fear, but
one of bravery! Don't try to be brave and test food (or have your
dog test it). Don't be tempted to buy dented canned goods just
because they are on sale. Don't be too arrogant to think your
home canning methods are without flaw. Know that, legitimately
botulism is a risk (even with commercially canned foods). With
that in mind, be sure to:

  • Inspect cans before serving. Inspect cans for dents, leaks,
    bulges and foaming.Always push down to make sure the lid
    of the jar you are about to consume has been sealed. Be
    safe, not sorry.

  • Toss questionable cans, dispose properly and do NOT
  • Toss: A bulging can is a telltale sign that botulism is
    inside, cut your losses and toss it.
  • Dispose: Carefully dispose the can into a plastic bag,
    then dump the entirety into the garbage being careful
    to wash hands and surfaces in which it may have
  • Do not re-use or recycle: Repeat: do not re-use a
    questionable jar. You will contaminate utensils in your
    kitchen and spread the illness further.

  • Know the root causes of Botulism in your kitchen. The
    bacteria can be transferred from the can through utensils,
    such as spoons and can openers, and through the dishes and
    even a sponge, dish rag or pot scrubber spreading the
    bacteria to other kitchen items. Skip to #8.

  • Boil all low-acid foods before serving. Tomato-based foods
    will benefit from boiling in a saucepan before consuming
    even in the absence of the signs of spoilage.

In summary:
  1. Inspect cans for dents, leaks, bulges and foaming.
  2. Questionable cans must never be sampled! When in doubt,
    throw it out.
  3. Bulging lids are a telltale sign that botulism is inside the jar
    - dispose it.
  4. Never re-use a questionable jar.
  5. Boil low acid foods which you open from the can.

#4: Beware that botulism may lurk in root vegetables.
While ingestion of improperly preserved food is among the
highest of risks, the deadly toxins can also be found in root
crops, like potatoes.

Botulism thrives in low acid and without oxygen. In the case with
potatoes, which are a low-acid food, spores gets trapped under
the skin of the potato and thrive there without oxygen. A baked
potato is the perfect breeding ground for spores to germinate. So
what's the answer?

  • Poke holes in your baked potato before baking them.
    Baked potatoes, especially those wrapped in aluminum,
    need the oxygen, so that botulism won't thrive. Remember
    that botulism thrives in an oxygen-deprived environment. If
    you poke holes into a baked potato, the air circulates and
    the botulism can't live.

  • Never leave baked potatoes at room temperature! After
    baking potatoes in aluminum, be sure to eat them within 2
    hours of being cooked or refrigerate them within 2 hours of
    being cooked. Failure to do so will allow spores to germinate
    and grow, producing their deadly toxins. Now you know and
    you can beware of foil wrapped potato woes.

  • Instead of canning, consider dehydrating potatoes. If you
    dehydrate potatoes, do not store them in mylar with an
    oxygen absorber. Augasson Farms potatoes, pictured
    immediate left, are stored in a food grade bucket without
    mylar, which could trap oxygen.

It's not just potatoes! Botulism is present in nature -- it's found
in soil and water, as well as on plants and intestinal tracts of
animals, including fish. What makes it unusual is that it thrives
with little or no oxygen.

#5: Consider there are many kinds of botulism.
Not all botulism is food borne, though most are ingested by
mouth! There are actually five kinds of botulism and its good for
preppers to get an overview, which will help in diagnosing:

  • human botulism (kids and adults): Not spread from human
    to human, interestingly, human botulism is actually food
    borne. This kind of botulism comes about from improper
    processing of food -- e.g., from improper home canning or
    bottling.  Neurotoxins are sometimes present naturally in
    contaminated foods, but in the case of canning, spores
    survive the processing, but then produce toxins inside the
    can or bottle in the absence of oxygen, and they germinate
    into a deadly mix.

  • infancy botulism (infants six months and younger): Infant
    botulism, which accounts for roughly 65% of botulism cases,
    is when an infant ingests bacteria that produce a toxin
    inside the body. This intestinal infection sometimes comes
    from infants ingesting honey (which is not recommended).
    While adults have mature digestive systems that can move
    spores through the body before they cause any harm, an
    infant does not have the same ability to handle such spores.
    So the infant ingests spores, the bacteria germinate, and
    multiply, and soon produce a toxin.
  • wound botulism (associated with substance abuse):
    Spores get into an open wound and are then able to
    reproduce. It may take up to two weeks for botulism
    symptoms to appear. This kind of botulism responds well to
    antibiotics, unlike the others.
  • inhalation botulism: Botulism can happen through inhalation
    and not just ingesting the toxin. Accidental or intentional
    bioterrorist release of toxins in aerosols are possible as are
    natural inhalation of dust, or by absorption through the eyes.

  • waterborne botulism. Theoretical, waterborne botulism may
    result from ingesting toxin filled water.

#6: Know the symptoms of botulism.
It's beneficial for preppers to have a health literacy when it
comes to the signs, symptoms of botulism. Learn to recognize
the symptoms:

  • Problems in adults. Botulism symptoms may arise 12-36
    hours after ingesting questionable canned food, children and
    adults first may experience a host of gastrointestinal issues
    followed by eventual paralysis.

  • Problems in infants: After having consumed canned honey,
    infants may have poor head control and appear "floppy."

Incidentally, never feed honey to an infant! Because botulism is
found on plants, naturally honey bees who help pollinate them
may contaminate honey consumed by humans. Raw honey is
particularly vulnerable for this reason.

What are the signs of botulism?
  • Diarrhea, constipation and cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General weakness
  • Dry mouth and an insatiable thirst for water
  • Blurred vision and drooping eyelids (ptosis) and also
  • Loss of facial expression
  • Problems speaking
  • Troubles swallowing
  • Paralysis (or in infants - this is recognized as a floppy baby
    and poor head control)
  • Respiratory difficulty - death occurs when the respiratory
    system shuts down

Sometimes the signs clues of possible botulism are not apparent
and it may require special tests for an accurate diagnosis of
botulism. A stroke for example, may be presumed otherwise, as
the paralysis symptoms and problems speaking and loss of facial
expression are similar.

#7 Know the diagnosis and cure of botulism.
After understanding the signs and symptoms, it's good for
preppers to learn more about the treatment and prognosis of
botulism. Both the diagnosis and cure of botulism may be outside
the purview of preppers; however, having the knowledge may
help a medical professional more quickly evaluate, which could be
a life saving factor.

While there are some telltale signs of botulism, unfortunately,
botulism may be mistaken with the following conditions:
  • belladonna alkaloids
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • myasthenia gravis
  • poisoning (caused by curare)
  • poliomyelitis
  • stroke
  • tick paralysis

Diagnosis of Botulism may require:
  1. brain scan
  2. cerbrospinal fluid examination
  3. nerve conduction test for electromyogram (EMG)
  4. scientists can also isolate the toxin in a stool sample.

Cure of Botulism:
Infants may get treatment and hospital care including Botulism
Immune Globulin Intravenous. As well, Adults may get Botulinum
Antitoxins, including Trivalent and Heptavalent. It does not
inactivate the toxins present, but it does help slow the
progression of the condition. With time the nerve endings can

Preppers may have reason to take
Activated Charcoal* should
botulism be suspect in several individuals. In the absence of
medical help, activated charcoal may help flush out toxins.
Activated charcoal, through a
dsorption, traps toxins in the body
to help flush them out.

  • NOTE: Always seek medical help if available. The more
    quickly you get help, the better your chances for meaningful

#8: Know the difference between food poisoning and
Is there a difference between food poisoning and botulism? You
bet there is! While food poisoning can make a person ill with
cramps, diarrhea, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting,
Botulism is more serious and deadly. Botulism is the delivery of
nerve toxins which paralyze among other maladies. The telltale
signs of botulism, which warrant a trip to the Emergency Room,
include also the other aspects of the illness:
  1. blurry vision
  2. trouble speaking
  3. muscular impairment and
  4. respiratory issues

The Botulism bacteria, which grows out of germinated spores,
produces the Botulinum toxin, and it is the Botulinum toxin that's
inherently dangerous. The bacteria themselves are not harmful,
but they can produce this highly poisonous toxin when they are
deprived of oxygen (such as in closed cans or bottles, stagnant
soil or mud, or inside wounds the human body). The toxin also
can survive in soil, dust and sediment as a resistant spore.

In dealing with bioterrorism, it's important to get the facts. Learn
more about prepping for
bioterrorism and chemical warfare.

Finally, know that expiration dates have nothing to do with
botulism or food  poisoning! Expiration dates on food has to do
with quality and texture, as well as marketing to get people to
buy more of a product. A dented or corroded can on the other
hand is a suspect of potential botulism.

#9: Know the foods most at risk for botulism.
Preppers can take preventative measure and extra care in dealing
with the foods, which are most at risk for botulism. Set
prejudices aside for fear mongering, because there are legitimate
and inherent risks in preserving some foods. Below is a list of
foods that are commonly improperly preserved and have a high
risk of botulism.

List of common foods that are improperly preserved:
Home canned foods with low acid content are most at risk for
botulism. The foods most at risk may include:
  1. asparagus
  2. beets
  3. butter - butter can not be safely home canned.
  4. carrots and other root vegetables
  5. corn
  6. green beans
  7. potatoes and other root vegetables
  8. tomatoes

As well, foods that aren't preserved may harbor botulism:
  • garlic stored in oil
  • nitrate-free meats
  • smoked fish

#10: Know the Warning signs of botulism in canned
Aside from canning improperly, another way preppers can avoid
risking botulism is to take heed serving from only well stored
cans, which have no dents, crack, leaks, mold or questionable

How to recognize botulism in your canned goods:

  • Bulging cans. When a can is bulging, it is a clear warning
    sign the food inside is not edible.

  • Leaking cans. Anything that is leaking or foaming is also

  • Dented and crushed cans. Dented cans present a heavy
    concern of botulism. If you've ever eaten from a dented can
    and survived, consider yourself lucky. Err on the side of
    caution and know that a dented can could ruin the integrity
    of the can enough to allow botulism to thrive, particularly if
    there is a dented seam, a bulging is present or it is a
    particularly sharp dent. Here's what the University of
    Michigan has to say about the safety of dented cans.

  • Corrosion on cans. Avoid cans which have corrosion
    indicating that it was improperly stored and the contents
    inside are dangerous.

IMPORTANT: If you recognize any of the above conditions:
  1. do not taste test
  2. do not feed to animals
  3. do not reuse the container.
  4. Follow extreme measures to isolate container in plastic bag
    and to dispose of it in the trash.
  5. Isolate also the utensils and kitchen equipment use

On storing your cans properly... The bottom line is that you
should never even taste a questionable jar. Other NO-NOs in
food storage include temperature fluctuations. It's important to
keep cans in a steady room temperature, and not in the attic or
garage where temperatures fluctuate without insulation to
extreme hot and cold conditions.

Preppers and homesteaders in particular must be extremely wary
of botulism in home canning. As well the threat of botulism is
also a public health concern because our food supply is so fragile.

What canned foods are most at risk for botulism?
Low-acid vegetables (beets, corn, green beans, and peas) are
most at risk for botulism. You must always pressure can low-acid
foods. Don't let the scare of botulism prevent you from home

From soups and stews, to meals-in-a-jar, to kitchen staples like
broths and beans, pressure canning is a time-honored craft that
allows you to safely and affordably preserve the food your family
loves to eat. Trust
The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning,
pictured right.

How can you tell if your food has botulism?
One thing's for sure: you should never "taste test" to see if your
food has botulism. Trust your guts. If it looks or smells unsafe to
eat, then toss it.

How can you tell if you have botulism?
Botulism (botulinus intoxication) is a rare illness that causes
paralysis and eventual death through respiratory failure. In
severe cases it can also impact your heart beat. The toxin starts
in your face and then extends to your limbs. This toxin thrives in
an oxygen deprived environment, which presents a problem in
particular to preppers, because of possible improper home
canning and food preservation methods, and possibly also poor
food storage practices.

Symptoms of botulism may include:
  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing problems
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Dry mouth
  • Facial weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paralysis

So botulism is food poisoning?
No. Botulism is not just food poisoning! (See #8 below to learn
the differences between botulism and food poisoning.) There are
more than 250 agents, including bacteria, chemicals, parasites,
and viruses that cause food poisoning.

Botulism is a kind of poison produced by the bacteria Clostridium
botulinum ( C. botulinum) that comes from improper food
preservation or an intentional
weapon of bioterrorism. This
deadly food poisoning causes eventual paralysis and respiratory
failure. It could happen in the prepper kitchen from canning, a
processes that forces the air out of food. The nasty little C.
botulinum bacteria may find its way to your stomach through
incorrectly processed or minimally processed canned foods.

Botulism, on the other hand, is a specific bacteria that thrives in
an oxygen free environment. It is of particular threat to preppers
because ordinarily, preppers strive to keep foods preserved by
depleting oxygen, by using
oxygen absorbers with mason jars or
mylar bags, for example, or using a food saver vacuum seal.
Ordinarily bacteria thrives with oxygen, but botulism is different.
It thrives with little or no oxygen!

Weird things to know about Botulism...

  • Botulism is a hidden beauty ingredient. Botulism is the
    basis for Botox, a cosmetic drug!

  • Botulism is heat and radiation resistant! Cooking destroys
    the botulinum toxin; however, it does not kill the spores!
    (Spores of botulism are resistant to both heat and radiation.)

  • Botulism has been used as a bioweapon and it will be
    used again! Botulism is a toxin of bacteria that's rare but
    that you could get from canned goods. It's also a
    bioweapon. Just a teaspoonful of Botulinum toxin could kill
    100,000 people!In 1763, during the French and Indian War in
    America, British Field Marshall, Lord Jeffrey Amherst gave
    blankets laden with variola viruses, to Delaware Indians,
    who were allies of the French. It was mildly successful!

So what about botulism as a bioterrorist threat?
The main reason botulism is such a threat with terrorists is
because the cost of production is so low. It's much more
economical than nuclear weaponry or chemical or conventional
weapons of mass destruction. Here are other reasons:

  • New Strain: Botulism H! There is a new strain of botulism,
    which has no known antidote. It's called Botulism H.

Botulism and other biological weapons don't discriminate victims
be they enemies, allies, or a nation's own population.
Authorities can determine whether the cause was natural,
accidental or potentially deliberate, but indeed
botulism is a
viable weapon of bioterrorism. Even in everyday prepping, we
must be aware of botulism and take precautions to avoid it.
Botulism threat to preppers
What it is (and how preppers can avoid it)

How to prevent botulism in home canning.
Lurking naturally in root vegetables, soil and sediment, and in
improperly "home canned" and preserved foods in the prepper
kitchen is a deadly toxin waiting to wreak havoc on your body:
botulism. This rare but potentially deadly nerve toxin can cause
paralysis that starts in the face and travels to your limbs.
Preppers can prevent botulism in the kitchen!

Preppers can and must learn to prevent botulism using safe
preservation methods. Canning is the "All American" way and
thankfully the right ingredients and heat can kill the bacteria that
can make you ill. Storing canned goods properly and avoiding
canning low acid foods are essential skills in prepping that can
help avoid botulism.

Botulism is a subject that evokes accusations of fear-mongering
amongst preppers, and yet it is a very real threat that is worthy
of deep consideration. Here's how to prevent botulism...

How to Avoid Botulism in the Kitchen!
Because of the unusual nature of the Botulinum toxin, preppers
should take extreme care in the kitchen and in food preservation.
Here's everything you need to know to prevent botuism in home

What's the best way to prevent botulism ?
Wondering how to prevent botulism in canning? You can't trust
your gut or taste test to avoid botulism. There's just one way to
avoid botulism in your food storage and that's to be extremely

  • Follow directions carefully when home canning.
  • Pressure can low-acid foods.
  • Do not can butter! Buy commercially canned butter.
  • Throw away canned foods that swollen, rusted, dented.

How to Prevent Botulism in Home Canning
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The Complete guide To Pressure Canning
How to prevent botulism in home canning
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