We recently told you about the recall issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) of One Gun Ranch and Organic Soup Kitchen canned soups that were sold at farmers markets in that state. The recall stated that the soups were “improperly produced, making them susceptible to Clostridium botulinum.”
Botulism is a potent toxin. A tiny amount can cause paralysis and death. Low-acid canned foods, such as soups and vegetables, can support this bacteria because it grows in low-oxygen, or anaerobic, environments, such as canned foods. Vegetables are particularly susceptible to supporting C. botulinum because the spores live in the dirt the vegetables grow in. And while the bacteria itself is destroyed when the soups are heated, the vegetative cells (spores) withstand that heat and produce toxin.
We were curious about the reasons for the recall, so we contacted the CDPH. Miren Klein, assistant deputy director of the Center for Environmental Health in CDPH said that One Gun Ranch and Organic Soup Kitchen did not have “licenses to produce canned foods and were unable to describe how they were effectively controlling critical aspects of their process such as initial temperature, maxiumum drain weight of the solids in the soups, and validated cooking processes (time, temperature, and pressure) – all of which have a major bearing on whether the canned soup received a sufficient cook to eliminate the possibility of botulism toxin production.”
In addition, the firms did not have their staff attend Better Process Control School, and they did not maintain production records or lot code their products. The facilities had “never had any of the products evaluated by a process authority that is qualified to determine the effective cooking process for the elimination of C. botulinum from the products,” according to Klein.
Furthermore, the firms “did not have any control over their processes, which posed the real risk that some or all of the products may have been processed inadequately,” she said. “It is the firm’s responsibility to ensure that they have complied with all of the legal requirements and distributed products that are in compliance with the law.”
Klein also told us that “the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Part 113.83 requires scheduled processes to be established by qualified persons having expert knowledge of thermal processing requirements for LACF [low acid canned foods] in hermetically sealed containers. The soups manufactured by One Gun Ranch and Organic Soup Kitchen were manufactured using processes that had not be evaluated by the University of California Laboratory for Research in Food Preservation.”