Hampton & McCreary
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Food poisoning can be deadly

A recent botulinum toxin outbreak in California has killed one man and sickened nine others. The source of the outbreak has been identified as jars of nacho cheese sauce from a gas station in Walnut Grove, California. While the California Department of Public Health has determined that there is no longer a threat to the public, the incident underlines the dangers of food poisoning, and in particular the rare but sometimes fatal cases caused by botulism. 

What causes botulism? 

Botulism most often occurs in food that has been canned at home. In 2015, the U.S. saw its largest case of botulism in almost 40 years when 29 people became ill and one died after having eaten contaminated home-canned potato salad at a church potluck. However, consumer food products like carrot juice, chili sauce or garlic chopped in oil have also been known to cause botulism. The illness is caused by a bacteria that paralyzes muscles and can lead to muscle weakness, slurred speech, drooping eyelids and other symptoms. Disease that progresses to paralyze the muscles responsible for breathing can be deadly. 

Prevention is not always possible

Consumers can remain on the alert for botulism by avoiding canned foods where the cans are indented, or that foam or squirt liquid when opened. But in many cases where foods are prepared out of sight, people may unwittingly consume the bacteria that causes botulism, and suffer the consequences. In these cases, it can be wise to consult with an attorney with experience handling cases involving food-borne illness

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