Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reminded Canadians of the importance of food safety while home canning or home bottling fish and other seafood. And they left no doubt about to whom their message was directed. The government said:

“Home canning and bottling of fish and other seafood is a popular activity for Canadians, especially in Atlantic Canada. However, improper preparation, canning or storage of these foods can cause serious illness, such as botulism.”

Ottawa went on with this advice:

If you are home canning or bottling your own low-acid foods (including clams, lobster and whelks), the following steps will help to reduce the risk of contamination or the presence of C. botulinum:

– Use a pressure canner and strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions for canning or bottling foods considered to be low-acid, such as fish and other shellfish.

– Clean and sanitize your hands, all work surfaces, food, utensils, and equipment and keep them clean during all stages of the canning process.

– Do not substitute ingredients, amounts or the jar size that is in the recipe because this can cause the time or pressure needed during pressure canning to change. This can lead to bacteria remaining in the food. Use the final product within one year.

– Once the container has been opened, refrigerate leftovers immediately.

– If you are buying home canned products, ask the vendor if they have followed proper safety steps.

Always remember, never eat canned foods if you suspect the item has been tampered with, if the closure/seal has been broken, or if the container is swollen or leaking. If in doubt, throw it out!

The entire statement designed to prevent botulism can be found here.