How is botulism prevented?

Updated: Feb 15, 2019
  • Author: Kirk M Chan-Tack, MD; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Prompt notification of public health authorities regarding a suspected case of botulism may prevent further consumption of a contaminated home-canned or commercial food product.

Foodborne botulism is best prevented by strict adherence to recommended home-canning techniques. High-temperature pressure cooking is essential to ensure spore elimination from low-acid fruits and vegetables. Although boiling for 10 minutes kills bacteria and destroys the heat labile botulism toxin, the spores are resistant to heat and can survive boiling for 3-5 hours. Food contaminated by botulism toxins usually has a putrefactive odor; however, contaminated food may also look and taste normal. Hence, terminal heating of toxin-containing food can prevent illness and is an important preventive measure.

Wound botulism due to intravenous drug abuse can be prevented by cessation of drug use.

Wound botulism is best prevented by prompt thorough debridement of contaminated wounds. Prophylactic use of antibiotics after trauma cannot be relied on to prevent wound botulism.

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