This past weekend, a Grays Harbor County man aged 55-65 passed away from a probable cause of botulism. No further information on the deceased is available. Confirmation of the cause of death is pending confirmatory test results.
Grays Harbor County Environmental Health assisted the property owner with the safe disposal of around 170 pint-sized jars of home-canned food and canning jars per CDC guidelines.
Botulism is odorless and cannot be seen or tasted; however, even a small taste of food containing the toxin can be deadly, according to the CDC.
The CDC stresses that home canning, while a fun and productive way to preserve everything from seafood to vegetables, can put people at risk of botulism if not done correctly.
Using proper canning techniques, the right kind of equipment, and disposing of any canned foods that may not have been properly preserved is the best way to keep your home canned goods safe.
Two excellent resources for safe canning practices include the CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/home-canning-and-botulism.html – and Washington State University Extension Grays Harbor – https://extension.wsu.edu/graysharbor/family/food/.
If you’re new to canning or need a refresher, the USDA has a great resource, the Complete Guide to Home Canning, available for free download at https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE01_HomeCan_rev0715.pdf.