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Clostridium botulinum It is a microorganism, a food contaminant, which, in itself, does not have much danger to health. However, the bacterium is capable of producing spores that, in addition to being naturally present in the environment, are resistant to heat. In oxygen-deficient conditions, the spores can produce a toxin that is very dangerous to health, especially in children: botulism. On our site we tell you the relationship between home canning and infant botulism.
Food poisoning occurs from ingesting food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxins. It is a toxic infection that occurs infrequently but is extremely serious, and can even cause death. Botulinum toxin affects the nervous system, and its symptoms usually appear between 12 and 36 hours after consumption of the contaminated food. The first symptoms include fatigue and general weakness that tend to concentrate in the arms and neck and work towards the lower part of the body. It is also characterized by produce muscle paralysis that can lead to respiratory arrest when muscles stop working.
Because this toxin is not transmitted from person to person, botulism can only be contracted by ingestion of the toxin itself, generally carried in food. The foods most likely to contain this toxin are canned foods, especially those made at home, or those that have been improperly prepared.
Must have special care with the vegetables in brine (green beans, peas, mushrooms ...), fish and shellfish (tuna, sardines, cockles ...) and with meat products such as frankfurters or canned ham.
Although the toxin cannot be produced in acidic environments (pickled products such as pickles), this acidic environment does not break down toxins that were already in the food, so if contamination is prior, the toxin can cause infection in the same way .
It is difficult to determine if a food is contaminated with the microorganism, its spores or the toxin itself, so precautions should be taken whenever possible when consuming canned foods such as those listed.
Botulinum toxin, once it leaves the spores, is easily denatured by heat, provided an internal temperature of 85C is reached for at least 5 minutes.
The case of babies is more dangerousor even, since the spores can germinate in the intestine itself, given its immaturity, colonizing the gastrointestinal tract and producing toxins in situ, with persistent constipation being the first alarm symptom.
The main problem in early childhood, even up to 2 years, is honey, since it is a frequent vehicle for Clostridium botulinum and its spores. As the intestine matures, its own defenses are able to fight bacterial infection, reducing the danger considerably. According to this, it is advisable to avoid offering the baby not only honey but any food that includes it in its preparation at least during the first year.
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