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Apr 28, 2014 02:25 AM

Botulism scare


I hope you can help me out with this one. A little while ago in my country a man has died because of botulism. This is how I began reading about it. I have OCD, and all these news and new information have really scared me. Yesterday I bought some fresh carrots and potatoes which were wrapped in a sealed plastic bag (the bags had some air in them, but they weren't punctured). I forgot the bags on the counter until today, and now I'm afraid to use the carrots and the potatoes. I don't want to can them or anything, I just want to cook them in the oven or use them for soups.
As far as I understand, the toxin itself can be destroyed by boiling the products, but what about the spores? If there are any spores, and no toxin, will they be destroyed by my gastric acid? I don't understand how these things work. Please help me out :(
Thank you

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  1. I'm not a medical professional or scientific researcher so I claim no particular authority, but I would not worry about your vegs. First, anaerobic means seriously "without air" - that is sealed tightly (by canning or covered with a layer of oil) away from all but minimal oxygen. There should have been plenty of oxygen in your plastic bags - even without holes - to prevent anaerobic bacteria from growing. (For that matter, most plastic film is not actually airtight. It's moisture proof, but usually permeable to gas molecules which are very, very small so it is difficult if not impossible to create an "anaerobic" environment with plastic bags or wrap.)

    As for the spores, they are pretty ubiquitous on agricultural products all over the world and we've evolved to deal with them. So yes, the mature human digestive system takes care of them quite nicely, so no problem there. In the US, it's advised not to feed certain foods to babies under the age of 1 year, but that's a separate issue and one I know too little about to feel comfortable addressing at all.

    1. Sweety, that's not how botulism works - it is an anaerobic bacteria, which means it grows in things with NO AIR, not on fruit and veggies sealed in a plastic bag. The spores themselves are harmless - the acid in your stomach will destroy them on contact. That's why a lot of foods are preserved with acid/vinegar...

      1. The occurrence of botulism is extremely rare and isn't known to occur in raw produce wrapped in plastic. Your vegs should be safe to cook and eat. Educate yourself on how to prevent food-borne illnesses then relax and enjoy your chow,

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          1. When in doubt throw it out.