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What is C. botulinum?

It rarely happens. But, when it does, it can be deadly. The pathogen Clostridium botulinum causes botulism. This is because a toxin attacks the body’s nerves and causes difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death. The spores grow and make toxin under the following conditions:

  • Low–oxygen or no oxygen (anaerobic) environment
  • Low acid, sugar, or salt
  • A certain temperature range that support growth of C. botulinum

Improperly home-canned foods can provide these conditions to allow C. botulinum spores to grow. Learn more about this pathogen at


About Karen Blakeslee

The Rapid Response Center was formed in 1995 as a resource for Kansas State University Research & Extension Agents. Resource topics included Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food Service, Textiles, Home Care and other consumer topics. Since that time, the Center has grown to be of valuable assistance to Kansas State University Extension Specialists in those areas.

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