Carrot juice with botulism latest food scare from California

A Floridian woman, the fourth victim of botulism poisoning contracted from drinking spoiled carrot juice, is suffering from paralysis.

Her case has prompted the recall of the California carrot juice produced by Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. is warning consumers not to drink Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice, 450 ml and 1 liter plastic bottles, with "BEST IF USED BY" dates of NOV 11 2006 or earlier and repeating it's advice that such juices must be stored in a refrigerator.

At present it appears that the link between the four cases is that the carrot juice was not properly refrigerated once it was in the home which allowed the Clostridium botulinum spores to grow and produce toxin.

Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium normally found in soil and under certain conditions the bacteria can produce a toxin that if ingested can result in botulism, a disease that may cause paralysis or death.

However cases of botulism from processed food are extremely rare in the U.S. and the FDA is investigating other possible links.

Symptoms of botulism can include double-vision, droopy eyelids, altered voice, trouble with speaking or swallowing, and paralysis on both sides of the body that progresses from the neck down, possibly followed by difficulty in breathing.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

To maintain adequate food safety levels refrigeration is essential in order to prevent bacteria growing.

It is recommended that refrigerator temperatures should be no higher than 40°F and freezer temperatures no higher then 0°F. and consumers should check the temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer.

Consumers should look for the words "Keep Refrigerated" on juice labels and follow those instructions; one of the things the FDA is investigating is whether drink labels provide clear refrigeration instructions.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning consumers not to drink certain brands of carrot juice described as they are also affected by this alert:

Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot Juice", sold in both 1 L and 450 ml sizes, Earthbound Farm Organic Carrot Juice", sold in both 1 L and 450 ml sizes and President’s Choice Organics 100% Pure Carrot Juice" sold in both 1 L and 450 ml sizes.

The manufacturer, Wm. Bolthouse Farms Inc., Bakersfield, California has voluntarily recalled the affected brands of carrot juice which may have been distributed across Canada.

To date there have been no reported illnesses in Canada.

Apparently food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria may not look or smell spoiled but can nevertheless make people ill and even cause death.

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