December 2008

 Fish from Canada being sold in Florida and there’s a little problem with them called BOTULISM.  That pretty well sums it up, but here are the details from our friendly U.S. Food & Drug Administration:

(FDA) is warning retailers and food service operators not to offer for sale ungutted, salt-cured alewives (also called gaspereaux fish) from Michel & Charles LeBlanc Fisheries Ltd., CAP-PELÈ, New Brunswick, Canada, because the fish may contain the Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) toxin. Consumers should not consume the product.

C. botulinum toxin can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. The toxin cannot be removed by cooking or freezing.

The fish were imported into the United States and sent to these Florida distributors:

Quirch Foods Inc.

Den-Mar Exports LLC

Dolphin Fisheries Inc.

Labrador & Son Food Products Inc.

The fish were packed in 30-pound, white plastic pails with green plastic lids. The brand name "Michel & Charles LeBlanc Fisheries Ltd.," appears on the side of the pails, as does the phrase "Product of Canada." One hundred seventy-three (173) 30 lb. pails of fish were distributed. The fish may have been repacked or sold loose by retailers in Florida.

The FDA considers any ungutted fish over five inches in length that is salt-cured, dried, or smoked, such as the ungutted, salt-cured alewives/gaspereaux fish, to be adulterated because it could contain the C. botulinum toxin. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discovered the ungutted alewives/gaspereaux fish from Michel & Charles LeBlanc Fisheries Ltd. being sold in stores and alerted the FDA. The FDA prohibits the sale of this adulterated product in the United States.

No illnesses have yet been associated with the bad fish. For more information, go here.



Heroin was discovered by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, as an alternative to morphine.  Because the pain-killer also made people feel euphoric or even heroic, it earned its name Heroin.

The day when it was safety sold at the corner drugstore, however, was a long, long time ago.

Given the, shall we say, uneven production methods now supplying the demand for Heroin, it comes as no surprise that bad batches lead to bad results.  Dublin, Ireland is now dealing with the worst possible result–Heroin on the street that is contaminated with deadly Botulism.

One drug user is already dead and six others may be suffering with Botulism.

Ireland’s Belfast Telegraph reports:

Officials are trying to determine whether the outbreak may be linked to a batch of contaminated heroin.

Botulism is caused by a toxin released by the clostridium botulinum bacterium and can affect drug users who inject into soft tissue rather than veins.

The disease can lead to problems with vision and paralysis and can be fatal in 5-10 percent of cases.


For more, go here.


This was first published yesterday on the Marler Blog: 

I just finished my presentation here at the ACI Conference giving an overview of the increase in 2007 and 2008 in recalls and outbreaks associated with hamburger and E. coli O157:H7 when I got an email of an article from Clinical Infectious Diseases from its November 15, 2008 publication on the 2006 Carrot Juice Botulism Outbreak tied to Bolthouse Farms.

For those that do not recall, in September 2006, three people living in Georgia developed food-borne botulism that was eventually traced to commercial carrot juice from a single bottle. Soon thereafter an additional case in Florida and two in Ontario, Canada surfaced. One of the 6 botulism patients died 90 days after illness onset. One year later, two others were still on ventilators. The remaining three were taken off ventilator support after 54, 90, and 129 days. Two survivors were at home, two were in rehabilitation facilities, and one was still hospitalized. All the patients had consumed carrot juice from the same manufacturer.

Now, here is the interesting part, according to Dr. Anandi N. Sheth at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia and colleagues, an investigation eventually determined that inadequate refrigeration probably led to botulinum toxin production. As the investigators pointed out, the pasteurized carrot juice had no protection against the bacterium Clostridium botulinum other than refrigeration. "This investigation demonstrates that carrot juice and other processed foods with no natural barriers to C. botulinum germination require additional chemical or thermal barriers," the investigators wrote in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Accordingly, they report, "In June 2007, the FDA modified its guidance for refrigerated low-acid juices to recommend adding a validated juice-treatment method, such as acidification or appropriate thermal treatment, to decrease the risk of C. botulinum contamination, should any breaches in refrigeration occur."