Suspected cases of foodborne botulism in Scotland - updateMonday, 14 November 2011
Investigations are continuing into the source of the suspected foodborne botulism reported from Scotland.
The two cases of suspected botulism with onset on 8th November are still receiving hospital treatment.
The source of the suspected botulism is currently being investigated by Health Protection Scotland and Scottish food authorities. They have implicated a single jar of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce as the most likely source. The Korma sauce was eaten by the two cases that have developed botulism and preliminary evidence indicates that it was contaminated with Clostridium botulinum. Currently all other foods tested are negative for botulinum toxin.
The Food Standards Agency is advising people not to consume jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce from the affected batch. These are 350g jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce with a 'best before' date of February 2013 with a batch code of: 1218R 07:21.
Although the toxin can be destroyed by thorough cooking (see below) it is strongly advised that any jars of Korma sauce from the affected batch are not used but thrown away. Consumers should dispose of any unopened jars from the affected batch in the domestic waste rather than emptying the contents and sending the jar for recycling. If the jar has been opened and some of the contents eaten, consumers should be aware of the symptoms of botulism (see below) and seek urgent medical attention if symptoms develop. The jar should be kept until after medical advice has been sought.
Botulism is caused by a botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The bacterium is common in the soil in the form of spores. Toxin can be produced when the spores germinate particularly in improperly processed, canned, low-salt, low-acid or alkaline foods and in pasteurised and lightly cured foods held without refigeration, especially in air-tight packaging. The toxin is destroyed by cooking at above 85C for five minutes or longer.
Symptoms, which usually begin 12-36 hours after exposure to the toxin, often begin with blurred vision and difficulty in swallowing and speaking, but diarrhoea and vomiting can also occur. The disease can progress to paralysis and is fatal in 5-10% of cases; death is from respiratory failure due to paralysis of the muscles needed for breathing. If treated promptly, the outlook for someone with botulism is usually good. Antitoxins have proven to be very effective in successfully treating the condition, although a full recovery may take several months. Botulism cannot be passed from person to person.
All suspected cases of botulism should be treated as medical emergencies. Clinicians in Wales who suspect botulism in any patient presenting to them should contact their local Public Health Wales Health Protection Team, during office hours, or the relevant Public Health Wales on-call telephone number out of hours.
More details, the latest updates and advice about this situation are available from the Food Standards Agency website at: http://www.food.gov.uk and the Health Protection Scotland website at: http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/index.aspx