b. Clostridium botulinum is able to grow in an environment without oxygen. Due
to this, botulism is frequently associated with underprocessed, alkaline, canned foods.
In particular, home-canned foods, such as green beans and corn, are involved in
outbreaks of botulism. However, commercial and other types of foods, even pickles,
can also contain the bacteria producing the deadly toxin. For this reason, food service
personnel must be careful when using canned products and reject cans that are
damaged, such as those with bulging ends, deep rust pits, and seams that are open.
c. The toxin is extremely poisonous but fortunately can be destroyed by heat.
For this reason home-canned, alkaline foods, such as vegetables, should not be tasted
before they have been heated to the boiling point. If the toxin is not destroyed by heat,
even a small taste can be fatal.
d. Persons suffering from botulism usually become ill within 12 to 36 hours.
They experience dizziness, double vision, and muscular weakness, as well as difficulty
in swallowing, speaking, and breathing. Although there have been great advances in
the treatment of botulism in recent years, it still can be a fatal disease.
2-10. FOODBORNE INTOXICATION DUE TO CLOSTRIDIUM PERFRINGENS
a. The bacterium Clostridium perfringens is frequently associated with outbreaks
of foodborne disease. It belongs to the same bacterial category as the botulism
organism but does not cause nearly so severe an illness. Clostridium perfringens is a
normal inhabitant of the intestinal tract of man and is present in soil, nonpotable water,
and unprocessed foods.
b. Most of the outbreaks caused by Clostridium perfringens have been linked to
cold, cooked, or reheated meat, stews, or meat pies. These dishes are frequently
prepared from leftover foods that have remained unrefrigerated for long periods of time.
This provides most of the conditions necessary for bacterial growth. In addition, some
strains of Clostridium perfringens are heat-resistant and are extremely difficult to kill by
cooking. For this reason, it is necessary to never leave foods unrefrigerated and to take
precautions when reheating. If leftovers have been unrefrigerated, they should be
c. The foodborne illness produced by Clostridium perfringens is caused by a
toxin. However, unlike the botulism organism, Clostridium perfringens must be taken
into the body for the toxin to be produced. In this way, it resembles the organisms
causing a foodborne infection.
d. People with foodborne intoxication due to Clostridium perfringens usually
become ill within 8 to 22 hours after eating. They will suffer acute abdominal pain,
diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.