Warning on food poisoning caused by Clostridium botulinum


(binhthuan.gov.vn) Recently, there have been a number of cases of food poisoning in the country requiring hospitalization and death due to botulinum poisoning. This is a toxin that is more virulent than the toxins of other bacteria. Therefore, in production and processing, the raw materials used must ensure food safety and strictly comply with the requirements of hygiene regulations in the production process.


Reviewing a number of cases of food poisoning in the country requiring hospitalization and death after eating canned food, pickled sauce, bologna... suspected of botulinum poisoning. Specifically, in May 2023, Ho Chi Minh City recorded some cases of botulinum poisoning after eating bologna and pickled sauce. In March 2023, some people in Quang Nam were suspected of botulinum poisoning after eating fermented carp fish sauce. Previously, in 2020, higher-level hospitals treated serious cases of suspected vegetarian food poisoning, the main agent in vegetarian pate causing poisoning was botulinum.


The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that there are four food groups susceptible to botulinum poisoning in humans, including: pre-packaged canned foods, processed meat products, fermented vegetables and non-cooked foods. The worrying thing is that the toxin of Clostridium botulinum is easily hidden in many familiar daily foods.


According to experts, the cause of this type of poisoning comes from the production of food products in sealed packaging (bottles, jars, cans, boxes, bags) that is not safe, leading to the presence of some bacteria that grow and produce botulinum toxin. Industrial canned foods often use nitric to inhibit botulinum toxin. Meanwhile, crudely processed canned foods are very susceptible to Clostridium botulinum contamination.


In nature, Clostridium botulinum spores are common and highly viable in soil and dust, and are found in garden soil, cemeteries, mud, fresh or composted animal manure, and the gastrointestinal tract of animals, poultry, fish… Notably, the spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria have high resistance, especially heat resistance of more than 100 degrees Celsius, they are only killed when heated at 120 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.


This toxin has 07 types of A, B, C, D, E, F, G and only 03 types of antidote. However, the antidote to botulinum toxin is classified as a rare medicine globally, it is not easy to buy and the price is quite high with more than 6,000 USD / bottle.


The Emergency Departments of Binh Thuan Provincial General Hospital, Southern Regional General Hospital... recently have received and treated some patients suspected of food poisoning due to eating food that is not well prepared, or improperly processed; by eating foods that contain natural toxins.


According to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health on measures to prevent poisoning by Clostridium botulinum. That is in production and processing, the materials used must ensure food safety, strictly comply with the requirements of regulations on hygiene. In the production of canned goods, a strict sterilization regime must be observed. People should only use food products and food materials of clear origin; do not use canned products out of date, swollen, flattened, deformed, rusted, or with unusual flavors or colors.


Foods should not be self-sealed and should not be stored for extended periods in non-freezing conditions. With fermented foods, packed or covered in the traditional way (such as pickles, bamboo shoots, salted eggplant...) it is necessary to ensure that they are sour and salty; it should not be eaten if the food is not sour. Eating cooked foods, drinking boiling water should be practiced regularly, taking freshly prepared, freshly cooked foods. When there are symptoms of poisoning, the patient should immediately go to the medical facility. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health also states the symptoms related to poisoning including nausea, abdominal distension, abdominal pain; neurologic symptoms such as symmetrical paralysis originating from the head, face, neck and down to the legs. The degree of paralysis ranges from mild to severe.


According to Binh Thuan Department of Health, in order to ensure food safety in the province, to prevent unfortunate incidents that may occur due to food poisoning, food safety inspection and supervision is carried out synchronously at 03 agency levels according to decentralization and management assignment and in accordance with Decree 15 of the Government. In particular, the inspection and supervision of input materials for processing food products must be carried out at the same level in 03 sectors including Health, Agriculture, Industry and Trade in 03 product groups as regulated.


On the other hand, the Department of Health also recommends that consumers pay attention to choosing foods of clear origin; comply with hygiene from hands to tools and raw materials before processing; especially in the current weather conditions.


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