In June 2018, three women were hospitalized in New York for respiratory failure and cranial nerve palsies (paralysis). These symptoms led to a diagnosis of botulism. Typical symptoms include nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, slurred speech, ptosis, thick-feeling tongue, and shortness of breath. This diagnosis was after about 14 hours of eating a homemade potato salad containing the home-canned peas.
The peas were canned 1-2 weeks earlier because of a malfunctioning freezer. A peach preserves recipe that uses the boiling water bath canning method was used by substituting the peaches with the frozen peas. The person who did the canning was a novice and unaware of the risks. After canning, one jar did not seal, and it was refrigerated. But, because of the improper canning method and inadequate heating, none of the jars were safe to consume, including the refrigerated jar.
Plain vegetables and meat require pressure canning to eliminate C. botulinum spores. This incident also emphasizes the fact that just because the jar seals, does not mean it is safe!
Read the CDC report on this outbreak at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6810a5.htm?s_cid=mm6810a5_w
Learn more about canning foods safely at www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/index.html