Apocalypse healthcare

Prepper pro-tip: Beware of Botulism

By Jake Sepulveda

With a wide variety of contents, a fair amount of liquids and wide availability, canned foods can be a great emergency food source for survivors from all types of disasters, including Zombie outbreaks or attacks.

But, with the threat of botulism poisoning a very real possibility for many survivors, it’s important to always check the condition of the canned food at hand before popping it open to consume whatever may be hiding inside.

Look for signs of bulging, rust, dents and/or broken seals, these are all signs that the contents may be contaminated and unsafe to eat. If you come across a questionable can when you’re out scavenging or going through your back up food storage, skip a meal and go hungry, rather than making it your last. Botulism poisoning is a serious and deadly condition that is never worth the risk… no matter how hungry you are.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stock ample supplies of canned goods for use during everyday life of during a disaster, it just means you need to rotate your supplies and always double check before you dine.

Foodborne botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by eating foods that are contaminated with the disease‑causing toxin. You cannot see, smell, or taste botulinum toxin – but taking even a small taste of food containing this toxin can be deadly.

Store home-canned foods for recommended times only. After preparing safely, label and date the jars and store them in a clean, cool, dark place. For best quality, store between 50°F and 70°F. Can no more food than you will use within one year, unless directions for a specific food give other advice.

Before you open a store-bought or home-canned food, inspect it for contamination. Suspect contamination if the container:

  • Is leaking, has bulges, or is swollen
  • Looks damaged or cracked

If you think the food might be contaminated, do not open the container and throw it out!

Even containers that look fine on the outside might have contaminated food inside. Suspect contamination if:

  • The container spurts liquid or foam when you open it
  • The food inside is discolored, moldy, or smells bad

If your container or the food inside have any of these signs of contamination, throw it out!  Follow the instructions below to throw the food out safely. These actions will help you prevent people and animals from accidentally coming into contact with food that may be contaminated.

Home Canning and Botulism

Know the risks of botulism from home-canned foods

Home-canned vegetables are the most common cause of botulism outbreaks in the United States. From 1996 to 2014, there were 210 outbreaks of foodborne botulism reported to CDC. Of the 145 outbreaks that were caused by home-prepared foods, 43 outbreaks, or 30%, were from home-canned vegetables. These outbreaks often occurred because home canners did not follow canning instructions, did not use pressure canners, ignored signs of food spoilage, or didn’t know they could get botulism from improperly preserving vegetables.

Use proper home canning techniques
  • The best way to prevent foodborne botulism is by carefully following instructions for safe home canning in the USDA Complete Guide to Home CanningExternal.
  • Use a pressure canner for low-acid foods and follow all specified home-canning processing times for safe home canning of all foods.
  • Pay special attention to the processing times for low-acid foods (pH >4.6), which include all vegetables, some tomatoes, figs, all meats, fish, and seafood. Discard all swollen, gassy, or spoiled canned foods safely.
  • Before eating home-canned tomatoes, foods containing home-canned tomatoes, or any home-canned foods that are low in acid, boil in a saucepan, even if you detect no signs of spoilage.
    • At altitudes below 1,000 feet, boil foods for 10 minutes.
    • Add 1 minute for each additional 1,000 feet of elevation.
  • If you know foods were underprocessed according to the current standards and recommended methods, do not eat them and throw them out safely.

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Categories: Apocalypse healthcare

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