What Are the Signs of Botulism in Canned Food?

Botulism is a word that often sends people running to the hills in fear — so much so that many people steer clear of canning altogether because they’re afraid of poisoning themselves or their families.

But a little knowledge can go a long way toward relieving those fears.

The Botulism Myth

Most people don’t realize that Clostridium botulinum is a bacteria that’s all around us every day. It’s in the soil, in the water, and on the fruits and vegetables you eat.

In its natural form, botulinum is pretty harmless, but it can produce a poisonous toxin under certain conditions: – Low acidity – Low oxygen – Moisture – Temperatures between 40°F and     120°F

It just so happens that these are all conditions home-canning provides. However, foodborne botulism is still quite rare.

Signs of Botulism in Canned Food

Should toxic spores remain in your home-canned goods, pressure will build and eventually pop the hermetic seal — the telltale sign that your food is no longer any good.

If you see any kind of broken seal or bulging lid, toss your food. This goes for your commercially canned goods also. If you see any bulging in your store-bought cans, don’t risk it.

Before you open one of your home-canned jars, inspect the seal carefully to ensure the lid is securely fixed in place. If you can lift the entire jar by the lid, your seal is safely intact.