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Big piece in USA today this morning about food-borne botulism, which the paper notes “is so rare that only about 30 cases are reported in the U.S. each year — almost all from home-canned foods, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Commercially canned foods are one of the safest foods because they're cooked long and hot enough to kill bacteria, unlike fresh produce, in which there is no processing ‘kill’ step.

“Even so, botulism is a concern because it's so deadly, claiming 8% of victims, often because breathing muscles become paralyzed. The toxin flourishes in the low-oxygen environment of a sealed can or jar in low-acid foods, such as vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk and olives.

“Proper canning prevents botulism. But undercooking, and leaky can seams that let in bacteria after cooking, may cause it.”

And, the paper reports, new evidence suggests that last summer’s alert about botulism toxin in hot dog chili sauce made by Castleberry's Food occurred because of “poor maintenance” and a failure of management to deal with the issue – which now has led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase its inspections of other canning plants around the country.

KC's View:
It is worth noting both that Castleberry's disputes the specific FDA findings about its practices…and, perhaps more alarmingly, that Castleberry's management hadn’t even seen the FDA report until USA Today obtained it from sources and then showed it to the company.

That’s the piece I don't understand – that findings about an event that is a year old haven't even been shown to the company about which the findings were made.

How is this system supposed to work? Maybe there is a rationale, but I don't get it.