October 2008

The Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota has published a case study of last year’s botulism recall. The Castleberry’s: 2007 Botulism Recall publication examines this nationwide recall in a case study that "illustrates the complexity of the food industry."  The case study was funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense is available as a free Adobe Acrobat download here.


Clovis, New Mexico is usually known for Cannon Air Force Base and the Norman Petty Recording Studios.   Cannon is home of the Air Force’s Special Operations Command.  Petty’s studio recorded Buddy Holly’s first chart-topping hits.   Clovis, however, is known for something else.  Something that happened 30 years ago—a botulism outbreak that killed two and made 30 others sick, some very seriously.

Don McAlavy, Clovis News Journal columnist, recalled what happened:

One of the most dreaded food-borne poisons known to man struck Curry County on Friday night, April 4, 1978. A group of people were at a banquet in the old Colonial Park Country Club that night. Some 30 members of that group became slightly ill to very ill. It was the dreaded botulism that killed two people in that group. One of them was John Garrett Jr., a noted farmer at Claud.

Dr. Jonathan Mann, state health officer, said the area is extremely fortunate that help for the victims were able to mobilize to assist victims in this tragic case. Cannon AFB Hospital had air-evacuation aircraft to fly patients to Albuquerque when first alerted.

All day Saturday and Sunday, volunteers from all walks of life called the hundreds of people that were known to have eaten at the club in the past week.

As patients were hospitalized in Clovis, Albuquerque, Lubbock, Amarillo, El Paso and Santa Fe, Dr. Mann arranged for anti-toxin to be flown in from all over the country.

For the rest of McAlavy’s look-back, go here.

Oregon sees just two such cases a year. The whole country records just 100. We are talking about infant botulism.

One victim is being treated now at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.

The month-old infant is beginning to recover. Its mother, Jennifer Perez says tiny Aracelis Mora went limp the day after they passed a construction site while on a walk.

Infant botulism causes muscles and respiratory systems to experience paralyzing symptoms.

The bacteria that causes botulism is often associated with food but can also pass through the air to babies who breathe in or swallow infectious spores sometimes found in dirt or dust.


Bucyrus City Auditor Joyce Schifer gave this update on the Ohio family stricken by botulism poisoning from home-canning gone bad:

"Joann Palm’s family is still very sick from botulism poisoning. Her 15-year-old son is still in Akron’s Children’s Hospital and she is staying at the Ronald McDonald House there," Schifer said. "Her parents are still in Mansfield General Hospital but are doing better. One of her twin daughters was also affected and while she is back in school, she still gets worn out easily and is in speech therapy from the problems caused by the botulism.

"Her son will soon be moved to Children’s Hospital in Columbus, but it will be a long process for him to get well. Many city employees have donated their sick time to Joann and that is very much appreciated."

The Palm family was affected by the botulism after eating home-canned green beans.