Fourth botulism case linked to carrot juice

Oct 3, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers not to drink some carrot juice products from a Bakersfield, Calif., company after a fourth case of botulism was linked to the company's juice.

In a Sep 29 statement, the FDA advised consumers to throw out any Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice in 450-ml and 1-liter plastic bottles with a "best if used by" date of Nov. 11, 2006, or earlier. The agency also advised that all carrot juice, whether pasteurized or not, must be properly refrigerated.

The most recent botulism case involves a Florida woman, who is now suffering from paralysis, the FDA stated. Three people in Georgia also became ill in early September after drinking the carrot juice.

The FDA has attributed at least one of the earlier cases to improper refrigeration of the juice at home. Other consumers who purchased the juice within the same period did not get sick, Georgia health officials said, suggesting that the botulinum toxin developed in the juice after it was sold. After the earlier cases, the FDA warned consumers to keep carrot juice refrigerated but did not warn against drinking Bolthouse Farms carrot juice.

The Clostridium botulinum bacterium, which is commonly found in soil, produces the nerve poison. Pasteurization may not kill all C botulinum spores, and inadequate refrigeration of juices can allow the bacteria to grow and produce the toxin, which can cause paralysis or death.

Droopy eyelids, double vision, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing or speaking are some of the symptoms of botulism poisoning, as well as difficulty breathing and paralysis on both sides of the body, starting in the neck, according to the FDA.

To prevent bacterial growth in general, refrigerator temperatures should not exceed 40ºF and freezer temperatures should be 0ºF or less, the FDA stated.

See also:

Sept 29 FDA news release

Sep 18 CIDRAP News story "Three botulism cases tied to carrot juice"

CIDRAP overview of botulism

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