A product considered to be an alternative to caviar has been linked to a botulism outbreak in Denmark.

The incident occurred after six people ate together at a company in early March in Southern Denmark. Three were hospitalized because of botulism and two other people reported mild symptoms.

Agustson A/S, the producer, has recalled red fish roe because of a risk that some pots from the batch could contain toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum.

The Statens Serum Institut (SSI) examined a number of food leftovers that Fødevarestyrelsen (the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration) collected.

In an opened glass of roe that was almost empty, SSI’s laboratory tests were able to detect the toxins. However, there were no other positives in any of the other foods or in two other jars of the roe.

Growth found in jar
Botulism is a very rare illness caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Patients were treated with botulism antitoxin and the condition of all of them is improving. Analysis of stool from one patient shows it is toxin type B.

The recalled “Nora Seafood Rød stenbiderrogn” in 60-gram jars was produced on April 23, 2020. It has a best before date of Oct. 23, 2021, and the lot number L0114. It was sold at Netto stores throughout the country.

Consumers who have bought this batch were advised to throw it out or take it back to the store where it was purchased.

Nikolas Kuhn Hove, from Fødevarestyrelsen, said botulinum toxin is not suspected in other batches from the same supplier.

“We have no reason to suspect an issue by the consumer, nor in the supply chain or at the production. The specific batch has been sold back in July, September and December 2020 and we have no reports of other cases of illness or other faults on the lot. Fortunately, we have only seen one company with botulism illness. This can show that we, so far, only have this one glass of red roe, where Clostridium botulinum has had the possibility to grow and develop toxin,” he said.

About botulism
While a variety of illnesses can result from eating under-processed food, one of the most dangerous is botulism poisoning. Untreated, botulism can paralyze the muscles needed for breathing, resulting in sudden death.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled product and developed signs of botulism poisoning should immediately seek medical attention, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. However, symptoms can begin as soon as 6 hours after or up to 10 days later,” according to the CDC website.

The symptoms of botulism may include some of all of the following: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, a thick-feeling tongue, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. People with botulism poisoning may not show all of these symptoms at once.

These symptoms result from muscle paralysis caused by the toxin. If untreated, the disease may progress, and symptoms may worsen to cause paralysis of specific muscles, including those used in breathing and those in the arms, legs, and the body from the neck to the pelvis area.

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