VANCOUVER –The BC Centre for Disease Control has now expanded its March 8 advisory to include all varieties of jam and jelly products prepared by Jamnation Fine Foods. Several varieties of the jam and jelly products, packaged in 120 ml-sized jars, were sold at charity booths across British Columbia in 2010, and may pose a risk for botulism, a life-threatening illness.
”The original advisory was prompted by a suspect case of botulism, and the sample of watermelon jelly that the individual consumed has now tested positive for the botulinum toxin. After conversations with the manufacturer, there is concern about other jam and jelly products prepared by Jamnation Fine Foods,” explains Dr. Eleni Galanis, Physician Epidemiologist with BCCDC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. “Anyone who may have purchased these products should discard them immediately. Botulism is a rare disease in BC; over the past ten years, we have only had six cases.”
Botulism is a serious, possibly fatal, form of food poisoning. The poison is produced by Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that is found in the environment. Botulism spores are resistant to heat – even from boiling water – and thrive in a moist, oxygen-free environment.
“Improper home-canning creates the perfect environment in which to grow the botulism toxin,” explains Sion Shyng, Food Safety Specialist at the BCCDC. “Because food contaminated by botulism may look and smell normal, there is often no warning. This is why home-canning must be done properly and with extreme care - any short cuts could be deadly. ”
If you are home-canning or bottling your own foods (such as jams, pickles, soups and sauces), the following steps will help to reduce the risk of contamination or growth from Clostridium botulinum:
Clean and sanitize your hands, all work surfaces, utensils, and equipment and keep them clean during all stages of the canning process.
Use a pressure canner and strictly follow the manufacturer's instructions for canning or bottling foods considered to be low-acid, such as seafood, meats, vegetables and sauces. High-acid foods are less likely to support the growth of bacteria, and only require the “boiling water bath” method of canning, which involves dropping a basket of sealed jars into a large pot of rapidly boiling water. High-acid foods include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, citrus fruits, apples, plums and rhubarb.
When you are storing your home-canned food, be sure to label and date all home-canned food. If you store your home-canned food in a cool, dry place, it will be at its best eating quality for at least one year.
Never eat, or even taste any home-canned food that appears to be spoiled; foams; develops a bad smell during cooking; the container has a bulging lid or is leaching; or you are not sure whether the food was properly canned or not. If in doubt, throw it out!
For more information on botulism or home-canning, view the BC HealthFiles on botulism at www.bchealthguide.org/healthfiles.
If you have consumed the recalled product and have symptoms compatible with botulism, call the 24-hour HealthLink BC Line at 811, or contact your physician.
For more information, please contact your local health authority or visit: www.bccdc.ca.
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Ritinder Harry, BCCDC Communications