Potential botulism contamination has prompted two recalls during the last three weeks for soups sold at California farmers markets. A recall for soups made by One Gun Ranch and Organic Soup Kitchen was issued June 11 and Taste of Roux soups were recalled on May 24. In both instances, the California Department of Health said the soups, sold in canning jars with screw on metal lids, “may have been improperly produced.”
Botulism, a disease that paralyzes muscles, is caused by a toxin made by Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can be found in the soil, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s a rare disease, on average just 145 cases are reported annually in the U.S. But most foodborne cases are caused by improper canning methods.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) meat and poultry hotline fields 70,000 calls a year, and in late summer many of then are about canning. Here are their recommendations for canning safely:
- Use the latest canning methods and recommendations. Food science is constantly evolving, so make sure your food preservation information is current.
- Use the right equipment for the kind of foods. Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning vegetables, as well as meat, poultry, and seafood. Clostridium botulinum is destroyed when foods are processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners. Using boiling water canners for these foods poses a real risk of botulism poisoning.
- Use a pressure canner with a properly functioning gauge.
- Use up-to-date process times and pressures for each kind of food and size of jar.
- The jar lid is concave and firmly sealed.
- No liquid is leaking from the jar.
- No liquid spurts from the jar when it is opened.
- No bad smells are coming from the food in the jar.