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Update: Two Botulism Cases Believed Connected to Recalled California Jarred Food Products

Two residents of Cincinnati, OH, in their 20s have been hospitalized with botulism that public health officials suspect is connected to a nationwide recall of a California company’s jarred sauces, according to the Cincinnati Health Department.

The two patients were reportedly on ventilators at one point, and one patient still on a ventilator was transferred last week to an acute long-term care facility.

Preliminary testing by the department found evidence of Clostridium botulinum type B in a meal of pasta that contained recalled pesto sauce. The lab is still awaiting confirmation of those results.

VR Green Farms of San Clemente, CA, is voluntarily recalling a variety of its jarred food products because they may have been improperly produced, therefore making them susceptible to contamination by Clostridium botulinum.

The recalled products include Pine Nut Basil Pesto, Pickled Farm Mix, Old World Tomato Sauce, Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Tuscan Grilling Sauce and Pasta Sauce. Photographs of these products can be found here. The products were sold at the VR Green Farms stand in San Clemente, CA, and via the Internet to consumers throughout the United States.

Ingestion of botulism toxin from improperly processed jarred and canned foods may lead to serious illness and death. Foodborne botulism is often caused by failure to follow proper canning methods and is more common in low-acid foods such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn.

Botulism toxin is odorless and colorless. Consumers who have any of these products or any foods made with these products should discard them immediately. Double-bag the jars in plastic bags and place in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash. Wear gloves when handling these products or wash your hands with soap and running water afterward.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The initial symptoms frequently experienced are double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, and dry or sore throat. Progressive descending paralysis, usually symmetrical, may follow. Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, have a weak cry and poor muscle tone.

The California Department of Public Health recommends that anyone experiencing ill effects after consuming these products should consult their health care provider. Consumers who observe the product being offered for sale should report the activity to CDPH at (800) 495-3232.

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